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Charles MacDonald House

19 Saxon Street, Centreville, Nova Scotia, B0P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/06/12

Side and front elevations, Charles Macdonald House, Centreville, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Side and Front Elevations
Main entrance, Charles Macdonald House, Centreville, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Main Entrance
Side elevation showing concrete deer, birth bath and bust; Charles Macdonald House, Centreville, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Side Elevation

Other Name(s)

Charles MacDonald House
Charles MacDonald Concrete House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1910/01/01 to 1910/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/12/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Charles Macdonald House is a two-storey, residential building located on a corner lot in Centreville, Nova Scotia. Built in 1910 entirely of concrete by Charles Macdonald, the house is a local landmark and unique within the province. The Provincial designation includes the house, land, art work and garden features.

Heritage Value

The Charles Macdonald House is valued for its association with its builder artist, industrialist and socialist, Charles Macdonald; its unique architecture; and as a local landmark.

Charles Macdonald was born and raised in Centreville, a small community in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. At the age of fifteen Macdonald left school to work in local industries, including a coffin factory and carriage factory where he learned basic carpentry skills. In 1898 he went to sea as a ship’s carpenter and for several years he travelled the world, recording his travels in poems, letters, drawings and watercolours. Between 1908 and 1910 Macdonald lived in Vancouver where he joined the Socialist Party of Canada. In 1910 he returned to Nova Scotia and established a cement brick factory, Kentville Concrete, and operated it following his socialist philosophy. It was a cooperative operation; workers did not receive wages but drew what funds they needed from the proceeds of their work. Macdonald believed so strongly in social progress that even company advertising material promoted concrete as one part of a larger movement of social change. The original one-storey factory was converted into a two-storey house in 1915 where Macdonald lived with his wife Mabel. Even decorative interior and exterior elements were made using concrete, including fences, garden sculptures and the bathtub, reflecting Macdonald’s artistic skills and creative use of concrete.

The Charles Macdonald House is a unique building in Nova Scotia. Macdonald was no doubt influenced by buildings he saw while visiting various ports, and was mocked by some for building such an unusual house. Together with the interior decorative elements and landscape features such as concrete fencing, garden beds, benches and statuary, the brightly painted Charles Macdonald House demonstrates the builder’s very personal artistic and political vision. The property has been little altered since is 1915 conversion to a residence and is now open to the public and operated by the Charles Macdonald Concrete House Museum.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 229

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the exterior of the Charles Macdonald House include:

- concrete building materials;
- form and massing;
- portico over main entrance forming base for second storey balcony;
- portico over side entrance;
- all original concrete landscape features including: sculptures of animals and mushrooms; dog house; bird houses; and arch over driveway;
- variety of size and style of windows;
- hipped roof.

Character-defining elements of the interior of the Charles Macdonald House relate to its concrete building materials and original artwork and include:

- murals and sculptures;
- fireplace and mantel;
- bathtub;
- benches;
- floors;
- stairs and newel post.



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)

1915/01/01 to 1915/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type




Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Property Program files, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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