Description of Historic Place
The Turner House is located on the corner of Commercial Street and the entrance/exit to Highway 101 in New Minas, Nova Scotia. This two-storey, New England Colonial style house and adjacent barn sit atop a hill amidst various forms of commercial development. The buildings and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Turner House is valued because the land and house have remained in the continuous ownership of the descendants of the New England Planter, John Turner, and because it is one of the oldest surviving, largely unaltered buildings in New Minas.
Although the family's oral tradition holds that John Turner, an original Horton grantee, built the house in 1760, this was in fact the year the land on which the house stands was granted to the family. John Turner obtained one share (or five hundred acres) divided into a town lot of one-half acre at Horton, dyke lots, a farm lot in the Grand Pré area, a second farm lot overlooking the Cornwallis River at New Minas, and a woodlot towards the South Mountain.
Initially, John Turner seems to have lived on and farmed his lot at Grand Pré. Probably about the time of the death of his first wife, Bathsheba in 1806, he moved with his second wife, Lydia, to the lands granted to him at New Minas. It is also possible he moved earlier or a son was already farming there. Certainly by 1815 he had a house there on the uplands and in a series of transactions sells and devolves by will, in 1818, all his property was transferred to his grandsons James and William. James and William were likely in their twenties because William marries Susan Minor in 1812. The 1838 census for Horton Township lists only a James and a Charles Turner, who may have been William's sons as William was probably deceased by then.
What happened to the property in this period is unclear, but by 1864 William H. Turner owned it, though adjoining were the farms of James and Charles Turner, presumably the sons and inheritors of the lands of William and Susan (Minor) Turner. Until at least the 1850s, William H. Turner was living at the North Mountain in the Cornwallis Township. Sometime in that decade he mortgaged his property and, it is assumed, moves to New Minas where he builds the Turner House and farmed the surrounding lands. It is believed that William H. was a son of James, great-grandson of John, the original grantee, and he inherited his father's farm in the early 1850s.
Both in style and construction, the Turner House dates from the middle of the nineteenth century and in all probability, William H. Turner built it with the mortgage money he obtained from his Cornwallis Township property in the 1850s. The land has been in the Turner family since 1760, and the two and a half storey, New England Colonial style house and adjacent barn have also been in the Turner family since they were built in the 1850s.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 123, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements relating to the New England Colonial style of the Turner House include:
- two-and-a-half storey wood construction;
- two chimneys inset from either end;
- cornerboards with classically inspired capitals;
- centered entrance in the front elevation;
- two-storey projecting bays on either side on the front entrance;
- two-storey bay on the east elevation;
- kitchen/living wing to the rear;
- stone and brick foundation;
- log and hand hewn floor joists;
- square piers and shouldered architraves in the large opening from the living room;
- baluster design in the main stairway;
- one-and-a-half storey wood barn.