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MacMullen Oil Skin Factory

2456 Highway No. 3, Barrington, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/03/28

MacMullen Oil Skin Factory, Front Perspective, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Front Perspective
MacMullen Oil Skin Factory, Rear Elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Rear Elevation
MacMullen Oil Skin Factory, Side Elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Side elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1880/01/01 to 1890/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The MacMullen Oil Skin Factory is a late 19th century, two and one half storey, cross-gabled, industrial building, located in Barrington, NS. The building is set back from the road and adjacent to a private residence. Only the building and its surrounding property are included in the heritage designation.

Heritage Value

MacMullen Oil Skin Factory is valued for its association with Nova Scotia's industrial history, notably the manufacture of oil skins. Built between 1880 and 1890 by its owner and operator James F. MacMullen, the oil skin factory became the biggest of its kind in all of Shelburne County. Prior to the advent of rubberized clothing, oil skins were used by fisherman and sailors to stay dry while working at sea. Oil skins were created by immersing cotton clothing in linseed oil. The line of clothing that the MacMullen factory produced included aprons, sou'westers, children's jackets and overalls , and were sold directly to individuals, wholesalers and fishing outfitters as well as to major fish and lobster packing plants. Three generations of the MacMullen family worked in the oil skin factory that operated until the 1930's when it could no longer compete with new products offered by larger clothing manufacturers.

Architecturally, the MacMullen Oil Skin Factory is valued as an industrial, solid wood frame, L-shaped building. This two and a half storey building was designed with long spans to maximize the work area on the second and third levels. The ground floor contained an icehouse built into the hillside, a storage area and several stables. A tar like residue, in places two inches thick, marks the locations of the oil vats and wringers as well as the major drip-drying areas. It is a rare example of this type of architectural architecture in Nova Scotia, and is possibly the only extant oil skin factory building in the province.

Source: Notice of Registration of Property as a Provincial Heritage Property, Provincial Property Heritage File no. 207.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements of the exterior of the MacMullen Oil Skin Factory include:

- cross-gabled roof;
- wood shingled cladding;
- six-over-six double hung windows;
- wooden door and window sills;
- cut granite foundation.

Character defining elements of the interior of the MacMullen Oil Skin Factory include:

- all elements associated with the industrial function of the building including; long span design, solid wood form and massing.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type




Textile or Leather Manufacturing Facility

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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