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Mystery House

95 King Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/08/03

Side elevation, Mystery House, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2005.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2005.
Side and Rear Elevation
Front elevation, Mystery House, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2005.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2005.
Front Elevation
Rear elevation showing modern additions, Mystery House, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2004.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2004.
Rear Elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1845/01/01 to 1845/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Mystery House is a two storey wood construction Neo-classical style house, positioned on top of a hill located on the corner of King and North Streets in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The building’s dormers can bee seen from a distance rising overtop the surrounding greenery. The heritage designation applies to the building and the surrounding land it occupies.

Heritage Value

Mystery House is valued for its age, as a good example of the Neo-classical style, and for its association with local folklore regarding a Dartmouth doctor.

Mystery House is valued for its age and its association with one Dartmouth's more interesting pieces of folk history. The house was built in 1845 for Thomas Thorpe. Thorpe rented out a room in this spacious dwelling to Dr. John McDonald. The name Mystery House was applied to the dwelling after the disappearance of Dr. McDonald. Since he did not have any family in the area, his absence did not cause any heightened concern and no proper investigation was made at the time. It was believed that Dr. McDonald had a large sum of money in his possession at the time of his disappearance. His fate has often been the subject of wonder and speculation over the years. Some people reported seeing a trail of blood in the snow, a water filled mine was drained, and a skull was found under the house. The skull was reportedly that of a pirate given to a tenant of the house. Many believe that the kindhearted old doctor came to his end by foul play and that the mystery of the sorted affair will be solved eventually.

Architecturally, Mystery House is valued as an example of the Neo-Classical style. There are only few examples of Neo-classical buildings in Nova Scotia, making Mystery House a rare example. Largely the lack of numbers is due to the economic factors the early settlement of the province. This style involves symmetry, vertical sliding sash windows, some degree of classical proportion, and a doorway meant to impress. Symmetry is the key to Neo-classical design, and in this is evident in the facade of the house. Windows are vertical sliding sash and an uneven number of vertical panes is quite common which is seen on the second storey. The Scottish influence is noticeable in the two Scottish dormers. Doorways in the Neo-classical style are extremely elegant. The front entrance of Mystery House is grand with fan light and two narrow side lights flanking the wood panelled door. The scale of Mystery House is quite large with a massive end chimney.

Source: HRM Heritage Property File: 95 King Street, Mystery House, found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Mystery House relate to its Neo-classical style and include:

- five bay symmetrical façade;
- vertical sliding sash windows;
- symmetrical façade of the house;
- large scale windows are vertical sliding sash;
- uneven number of vertical panes;
- two Scottish dormers;
- simple trim and delicate glazing bars;
- slim corner trim;
- short cornice returns on the gable ends;
- fan light and two narrow side lights surrounding front door;
- wood paneled front door;
- large end chimney.



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

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

HRM Planning adn Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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