History of Harrington House
Construction of the house was started in 1896 by a former Attorney General of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Honorable O. T. Daniels. The house is built on the foundation of a previous house on the site, a brick home built by Miner Tupper, a prosperous merchant of the mid 1800's. This home burned down around 1870. Construction of the Daniels' house was carried out by a local firm, Curry and Bent, and according to newspaper articles took four years to complete. The house owned by Miner Tupper was likely built around 1840-1860. Since no building permits were needed at that time, there are no construction records. No record has yet been found of the purchase of the land either, or the exact date of its destruction, but the property itself was sold to Daniels in 1890 by Miner Tuper's widow. It is likely that the original property was purchased from Frances Crosskill nee Gibney whose deceased husband Abner Gibney purchased it from John Marshall who purchased Lot 257 from Capt Weir who received it when the original grants were given out in 1799. Prior to 1900, property owners did not need to file for severance, get building permits, or use standard forms for property transfer. The parties simply met with a notary and wrote out the details of the sale. It is possible that the sale to Miner Tupper was conducted elsewhere or is buried in another legal document, possibly a will probate or a mortgage, a common practice of the time.
O. T. Daniels passed away in 1927, and his widow and daughter, also a widow, started renovations on the house. We recently were given pictures of the house as it was originally built. We had thought the design ws in the Queen Anne style which was very prevalent in town, especially for the larger homes, however this was not the case. The renovations in 1936 were extensive, removing the front veranda, changing the roofline adding the library, an ensuite bath to the master bedroom plus a walk-in closet. On the main level the library with its solid walnut shelving and wall panelling was located on the corner where the house entrance to the veranda was. The main entrance was not moved nor was the staircase, but we suspect that there were changes made to it. The second floor bath was added at this time as well. Since the main bath has a select quality birch floor, this area may have originally been an office or sewing room. At the time the house was built, plumbing and electricity had not yet come to town. O. T. Daniels' widow sold the house in 1938 once renovations were complete. These changes added about 1000 sq ft to the size of the house, adding space to all 3 levels. The changes were undoubtedly made to make the house more modern and therefore more saleable. The house was sold to another judge, Lee Crowell. His son Ken, a judge himself, grew up in the house and now lives near Middleton where he is still a judge. The main floor half bath was added by Judge Crowell.
In 1940, an adjoining property was purchased from the Baptist Church by Judge Crowell, to bring the property up to its current size of about 2 acres. The original property was half the current width. The purchased property doubled the size of the property and its street frontage. One of the reasons for the purchase was that a house stood in what is now the main front lawn of the house and blocked the view. Judge Crowell upon purchasing the land, had the house torn down. He also extended the carriage house which was then used as a garage by 10 feet. He hired a full time gardener to plan and maintain the property. We hired the gardener's grandson to help us with repairs to the house after we purchased it.
Judge Crowell in turn sold the house to a local family in the 1960's. Their son was the real estate agent for us when we purchased the house. Peggy Huthinson converted the carriage house into a craft shop. The Hutchinson's sold the house to the Thwaite's in 1985. David Thwaite was mayor of the town for one term and he and his wife Mavis briefly operated the house as a B&B before selling it to Anne MacDougall who sold it to us. While owning the house the Thwaites converted the old summer kitchen into the current kitchen adding another 300 square feet to its size, bringing it to its current size of about 5000 square feet.
When the current house was built, Bridgetown was in its heyday. The town was a bustling shipping and warehouse center. Being at the end of the navigable portion of the Annapolis River, Bridgetown was a focal point for the shipment of apples and timber throughout eastern Canada and supported a thriving shipbuilding industry. A number of barks and schooners were built just east of town on the shore of the Annapolis River. As a result of the growth of the town and the burgeoning industry, many wealthy and prominent people lived in Bridgetown and built an array of beautiful and imposing homes along its main street. Today, these homes are a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the time and surrounded by large mature trees, they provide a tranquil, leafy retreat to yesteryear. The Cypress Historic Walk is named after the last schooner built in Bridgetown. The Cypress Historic Walk takes you past these homes in its tour of the town.
Since buying the house, Roberta and I have tried to restore the house and grounds to their former beauty, while updating the essential services. New electrical wiring along with ceiling lights, outlets and switches, new bath fixtures and plumbing , a new heating system, insulation and refinishing the hardwood floors was the start. Redecorating came next plus turning the carriage house into a summer house. Next came the grounds and decks and entranceways, as well as painting the house and redoing the roof. All this to have them reflect the character of the house. We also installed modern wood burning appliances with steel chimney liners to allow us to use wood as our main source of heating. And as with all heritage homes, renovations are a labour of love and are always ongoing.