Five Oldest Homes in HRM

With so many construction sites sprouting up around HRM, it seems like almost everyone is in the market for a brand new home in a brand new development or condo. It’s a wise choice: with new builds you have the security of knowing who built your home (and to what standard), excellent insulation, energy-efficient windows and appliances, and usually plenty of square footage.  But what about the heritage properties that grace our county? Hundreds of buildings of historical relevance still dot our streetscapes and neighbourhoods, and occasionally  something comes on the market that captures the imagination. And it’s worth remembering that however noble or commercial these buildings are now, each one was originally built as a family home.  

 Lots of Haligonians know that the oldest secular building still standing in Halifax houses The Carleton on Argyle Street. It was built in 1760 by Richard Bulkeley,   a giant figure in colonial Nova Scotian history. Legend has it that he built The Carleton, his private home, from rocks salvaged from the ruins of Fortress   Louisbourg — even going so far as to install Louisbourg’s governor’s black marble mantel. Bulkeley loved entertaining, "noted for his lavish   hospitality, entertaining and many other military men during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution.” And at the Carleton he regularly entertained   both future king William IV, and Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward — a fitting beginning for one of  Halifax’s best live music destinations.

Charles MorrisNext, future Chief Justice of Nova Scotia Charles Morris built Morris House in 1764 on what is now Hollis Street. Morris was Surveyor General at the time, and laid out the grids along which downtown Halifax and Lunenburg were built. His house passed through four generations of Morrises, but fell into disrepair through the 20th Century and was slated for  demolition in 2009. Happily, it was rescued by some intrepid homeowners and moved to Creighton Street in the North End. After extensive rehabilitation and remodelling, it’s now a handsome family home again.

The third-oldest home in HRM is the Scott Manor House, built by Lt. Joseph Scott next to Fort Sackville in 1769. We delve more into that home’s history in our neighbourhood profile of Bedford, but it’s now a charming museum.  The Quaker Whaler House was built in 1785 by William Ray, who happened to be both a Quaker and a whaler. He built his home in the style of his native Nantucket, an asymmetrical salt box — decidedly less grand than the other homes described here. Ray lived in his home for just six years before all Quakers were resettled in Wales by the British government.  

 Lastly, the fifth-oldest house in Halifax Regional Municipality is the Black-Binney House at 1472 Hollis St. The house was built in 1819 by merchant Hon. John   Black. Like The  Carleton, this home has always been an impressive structure — when it was built, it was said to rival the London homes of equally wealthy   merchants. After serving as a family home  to both the Blacks and Anglican Bishop Hibbert Binney, the home fell into disrepair and was subdivided   into apartments. Following a fire, the home was restored to its original state by the Canadian government as a Centennial project, and now houses the Nova   Scotia Division of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires. 

If you’re interested in your own slice of Nova Scotia history, give one of our friendly realtors a call today. They know that there’s more to HRM just new-builds.

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