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680 Main Street

680 Main Street, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, B0J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/02/13

Front elevation, 680 Main Street, Mahone Bay, NS, 2009.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2009
Front Elevation
Front and side elevations, 680 Main Street, Mahone Bay, NS, 2009.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2009
Front and Side Elevations
View of 680 Main Street, Ernst shops and wharves circa 1900 , Mahone Bay, NS.; Courtesy of Settlers Museum, Mahone Bay, NS
View ca. 1900

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/04/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

680 Main Street is situated opposite the Town Wharf in Mahone Bay, NS. It is a two-and-one-half storey wood frame home built circa 1885. Best described as “Transition style,” the structure incorporates Neo-classical, Italianate and Bracketted elements. The house is set close to the street on a small lot adjoining an older heritage property. Municipal heritage designation applies to the land and building.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of 680 Main Street lies in its architectural representation of Mahone Bay’s prosperous shipbuilding era; its historic association with the working waterfront; and, its association with the Ernst family of shipbuilders and merchants.

Its imposing scale, Victorian embellishments and site near the government wharf on the main road to Lunenburg make 680 Main Street an architectural landmark in Mahone Bay. The cheerful mix of Neo-classical, Italianate and Bracketted details captures attention and reflects the flourishing local economy at the time it was built. Also significant is its relationship to the small Neo-classical cottage next door. Together they represent a continuum of life from the frugal settlement days to the prosperous shipbuilding years on the Mahone Bay waterfront.

The home at 680 Main Street is believed to have been built in the mid-1880s by Abraham Ernst (1849-1911). His father, Jacob Ernst, already owned the shore and wharves directly opposite when Abraham acquired this property in 1883. The wharves were the site of Jacob Ernst's import/export business which grew alongside the Ernsts' thiving shipyard. These businesses were passed to Abraham and then to his sons, Selvyn and Willis, and prospered for several generations. Ernst family descendents recall that medical missionary Sir William Grenfell regularly provisioned his northern Newfoundland expeditions at the Ernst family stores and wharves. A little further along the shore to the southeast, at the foot of Fauxburg Road, the two slipways of the Ernst Shipbuilding Company launched ships for the fishery and the Second World War.

Source: Town of Mahone Bay Heritage File #MBHG004

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of 680 Main Street relate to its Italianate architecture and original features and include the following:

- Italianate features such as the three-arch entry, two-arch central second-floor window and central five-sided Scottish dormer;
- corner pilasters with paired brackets at cornices;
- brackets under eaves;
- two-over-two windows with heavily carved hoods, fretwork and moldings;
- wood cladding with frieze boards under eaves and water boards at base of cladding;
- cut granite curbs edging the front lawn and driveway;
- large, imposing scale especially in relationship to the older smaller neighbouring house;
- original and historic interior features including fireplaces, cistern and hand pump, secondary stairway, spacious central halls, wide central staircase and handrail, and custom shutters.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Peopling the Land
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Mahone Bay Heritage File #MNHG004

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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