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Dr. Walter Chestnut Library

395 Main Street, Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2010/03/01

Originally built as a post office and drill hall, the building later served as a pharmacy before opening as a public library.; Doris E. Kennedy
Dr. Walter Chestnut Library
Photograph taken in 1912 before the clock was installed in 1913.; Doris E. Kennedy
Dr. Walter Chestnut Library
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Other Name(s)

Dr. Walter Chestnut Library
Never's Pharmacy
Pharmacie Never's
Hartland Post Office
Bureau de poste de Hartland
Militia Barracks
Caserne de milice

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Dr. Walter Chestnut Library is a two-storey Romanesque Revival style building, constructed in 1912 by the Government of Canada. It is the most distinctive building located on the west side of Main Street in Hartland. It is in the centre of the municipality adjacent to the Saint John River and has scenic sightlines to two historic bridges.

Heritage Value

The Dr. Walter Chestnut Library, formerly the Hartland Post Office, is designated a Local Historic Place for its architectural qualities typical of the era and for the purpose it has continued to serve in the community. The building was constructed in 1912 by the Government of Canada as part of their effort to make their presence known in small municipalities. Around the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Fuller, a chief architect employed by the Department of Public Works, influenced a massive construction project of post offices across Canada. The former Hartland Post Office was part of this initiative. It has thick brick walls with rough-faced square stonework details, a large tower and decorative arcading, all bold characteristics that the federal government used to create an impression of strong, timeless authority. The building also had a military component as a training centre and is thus significantly associated with the military history of New Brunswick.

The exterior structure has distinctive architectural elements in contrast with other institutional buildings in Hartland, including its large, symmetrically-balanced 12 by 12 metre square building shape and the three-storey clock tower at its south east corner. The above-grade portions of the concrete basement are of cut sandstone blocks that support thick red brick walls. The basement, which originally housed a steam heating plant with a coal room to provide hot water, currently serves as a children’s reading room. The red brick walls extend to a mansard roof. Wide voussoirs above the arched windows and doors have been replaced with a semi-circular formation of bricks. The single double-hung windows on the second level feature pediments, while the first level has single double-hung Roman arch windows.

The building has two entrances on the main façade. The left entrance has sidelights, a transom and three concrete steps with original concrete and stone sidewalls ascending to the main level. This entrance is at the first level of the three-storey south east tower that contains an illuminated four-face clock in the semi-circular cut-out of the tower’s pyramidal roof. The clock was installed in 1913 by a local jeweller and clock maker. The original operating clock mechanism was built by J. Smith & Sons., Midland Clock Works of Derby, England (est. 1856) and continues to remind the community of the time in 15 minute increments. Beneath the clock, three small elongated windows decorate the south and east side of the tower. The second level has a double-hung window on the south and east side and an arched double-hung window on the south side main level. The right entrance has modifications to accommodate an elevator in the original opening. The second floor is reached by the original wood circular stairwell that begins at the basement, reaches the landing of the main level then continues to the second floor. The north side entrance that was used by the military to reach the second floor in order to bypass the postal workers is currently used as an exit. The second floor opens into a large assembly room used initially as an armoury, the commanding officer’s private apartment and a lavatory. It was also used for community band practices and now serves as a multipurpose community room and art gallery.

Sources: “Hidden History of Hartland”, by Doris E. Kennedy, located in the Hartland Town Hall; Town of Hartland archives, "Dr. Walter Chestnut Library" file.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Dr. Walter Chestnut Library include:
- authoritative presence with robust exterior Romanesque Revival design;
- symmetrical 12 x 12 metre square structure with three-storey clock tower on the south east corner;
- original working illuminated four-face clock under the semi-circular cut-out of the pyramidal roof;
- original exterior red brick walls;
- concrete basement with rough-faced exterior stonework;
- stone window sills;
- single double-hung Roman arch windows on first level;
- single double-hung windows on second level with pediments;
- hipped-roof dormers that break the plane of the roof-line;
- three elongated narrow windows beneath the tower clock on south and east side of the tower;
- mansard roof with shaped asbestos shingles;
- door with sidelights in the original entrance opening;
- sandstone steps with original stone sidewalls;
- north side entrance.

The interior character-defining elements include;
- large open high-ceiling assembly on the main level;
- original window openings;
- wainscoting;
- wooden circular stairwell from the north entrance to the second floor;
- interior spatial layout of the second storey;
- refinished narrow wood floor on the second storey;
- second storey ceiling opening into the clock tower.



New Brunswick

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NB)

Recognition Statute

Local Historic Places Program

Recognition Type

Municipal Register of Local Historic Places

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1913/01/01 to 1913/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations
Governing Canada
Military and Defence

Function - Category and Type


Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Special or Training School


Recreation Centre
Armoury or Drill Hall
Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

Thomas Fuller (Department of Public Works)


J. W. Smalley and C. J. Smalley

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Hartland Town Hall, 31 Orser Street, Hartland, NB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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