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Bell Inn

3515 Cape Road, Dorchester, New Brunswick, E4K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1994/08/04

Bell Inn - front façade at an angle; Tantramar Interactive
Bell Inn
Bell Inn - side elevation; PNB 2004
Bell Inn
Bell Inn - Rear elevation; PNB 2004
Bell Inn

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/08/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Bell Inn is a single story stone Colonial building situated on a plot of land containing a stone outcrop on Cape Road in the Village of Dorchester.

Heritage Value

The Bell Inn is designated a Provincial Heritage Place for its architecture and for its role in the hospitality industry.

Constructed sometime between 1811 and 1821, the Bell Inn is significant as one of New Brunswick's oldest surviving stone buildings. The simple rectangular single story massing, pitched roof and dormers are good examples of features of the early Colonial style. The stone is identical in color and texture to that in an outcrop located behind the building which shows signs of quarrying. This indicates the strong possibility that the building stone for the structure came from this outcrop. Several interior details that indicate the Colonial style from this era are still present.

After serving at least four decades as a private dwelling and small country inn under various ownership, in 1858 it passed into the hands of William Hickman, later one of Dorchester’s leading shipbuilders. Following extensive renovations, Hickman ran it as an inn in conjunction with his recently acquired stagecoach line between Moncton and Amherst, itself part of a longer line running between Saint John and Halifax Nova Scotia. From then until the completion of the Intercolonial Railroad in 1872 the “Bell” served as Dorchester's only stagecoach inn. Earlier stagecoach lines, established as early as 1835, had patronized two larger hotels across the street, “Hickman’s” and “Weldon’s”.

When the stagecoach era ended, Hickman turned the “Bell” into a handsome residence and head office for his far-reaching shipping and mercantile enterprise. Scene of many an important social gathering, it remained in the Hickman family until 1948. After a period of decline and dilapidation, it was restored to something like its 1850 condition by the joint efforts of the government of New Brunswick and the Westmorland Historical Society, which now owns and maintains it. Today, it hosts the Bell Inn Restaurant that is currently listed in “Where to Eat in Canada”, the country’s premier dining guide.

Source: Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Heritage Branch, Site File # 56.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements that describe the architecture of the Bell Inn include:
- exterior stone walls of coursed ashlars on the front façade;
- random coursed roughly squared stone on the gable ends;
- squared cut stone quoins;
- symmetrical and ordered structure of five bays with a central door at the front façade;
- asymmetrical window arrangement on the side façade;
- medium-pitched gable roof;
- tall cut stone chimneys at both ends;
- overhanging roof eaves;
- gabled dormers with wood clapboard siding;
- southern side ell clad in wide horizontal wood boards on the front façade, wood shingles on the side and rear façades;
- basement (low ground floor) commercial storefront in the southern ell;
- roughly squared rubble sandstone foundation walls;
- original double-hung windows throughout, including 6 over 6, 10 over 10, 6 over 3 and 9 over 9 windows.

The character-defining elements that describe the interior of the Bell Inn include:
- original wood railing with squared balusters and newel post;
- original Greek Revival window and door trim throughout;
- fireplaces.

The character-defining elements of the location of the Bell Inn include:
- highly visible commercial orientation to the street and road intersection;
- stone outcrop.



New Brunswick

Recognition Authority

Province of New Brunswick

Recognition Statute

Heritage Conservation Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Place

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1820/01/01 to 1860/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport. Heritage Branch. File number 56

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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