Antigonish County Court House - Antigonish, NS
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 45° 37.393 W 061° 59.265
20T E 578911 N 5052683
Relatively small and unassuming, the Antigonish County Courthouse is very much representative of mid nineteenth century courthouses of Nova Scotia.
Waymark Code: WMY80N
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Date Posted: 05/07/2018
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member Bon Echo
Views: 4

Built in about 1855 by local carpenter Alexander McDonald, this courthouse is one of about 10 wood framed courthouses from the era which survive in Nova Scotia today. McDonald apparently liked building courthouses, as he built others in Arichat, Richmond County in 1847 and Sherbrooke (St. Mary’s District) in 1858. Until 2015 this building remained in use as the Antigonish County Courthouse. A new courthouse has now taken its place, leaving this one, at least temporarily, without a job.

The Antigonish County Court House, constructed in 1855, is one of the best examples in Nova Scotia of the typical mid-19th century Maritime court house. The simple vernacular style of this building is enhanced by the Greek Revival temple-like portico which is its distinctive feature. Alexander McDonald, local carpenter and builder, designed and built this court house in addition to those at Sherbrooke and Arichat. The county court house has remained as a focal point of judicial and community activity since the mid-19th century.

Antigonish County – Antigonish - 1855

With its imposing Greek Revival columns and tall windows, the Antigonish courthouse stands as a monument to the town’s mid-nineteenth century pride and prosperity. It was too grand for some people’s tastes – a number of residents signed a petition to the legislature that complained of the “considerable sum of money” spent on the building. While the date of construction is uncertain, descendants of its builder – Antigonish contractor Alexander McDonald, known locally as “Sandy the Carpenter” – suggest it was completed in 1855. The county jail, built of stone, is attached to the rear of the building. The courthouse survived a serious fire in the 1940s and continues to be the venue for the area’s Supreme Court cases.
From Courthouses of Nova Scotia
Antigonish County Court House
Antigonish County Court House is situated in the town of Antigonish on the northeastern shore of mainland Nova Scotia. Built in a simple, vernacular style, the Court House is symmetrical, wood-frame building. It is distinguished by a Greek revival, temple-like front consisting of a pedimented portico supported by four large fluted columns. The county jail, built of stone, is attached at the rear. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.

Antigonish County Court House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1981 because it is one of the best examples in Nova Scotia of the typical mid-19th century Maritime Court House.

The court houses erected in Nova Scotia toward the mid-19th century were small wooden buildings which accommodated a large court room, a judge’s chambers, a barrister’s room, as well as rooms for grand and petit juries. They were simple frame buildings, the design of which incorporated classicized ornamental details, giving them a monumental presence suitable for courts of law. The Antigonish Court House is a good example, designed and constructed in 1855 by local carpenter Alexander McDonald. The building has undergone some modifications, having survived a major fire in 1945 and having undergone subsequent renovations. It continues to serve as a court house.

- the two-and-a-half storey, rectangular massing under a front-sloping gable roof;
- the wood-frame construction with clapboard siding;
- the symmetrical principal elevation with pedimented portico supported by four large voluted columns of the Greek Ionic order;
- the five-bay façade with central principal entrance and regularly placed double-height, multi-pane windows;
- the wooden exterior detailing that includes a prominent pediment, a wide frieze under the eaves, a series of fluted pilasters marking the bays of the façade;
- the double doors of the main entrance with a semi-circular fanlight above;
- surviving evidence of the original features, finishes, and the original interior configuration defined by the large courtroom directly beyond the high main entry vestibule with split stairs leading to a gallery above.
From Historic Places Canada
URL of Page from Heritage Register: [Web Link]

Site's Own URL: [Web Link]

Address of site:
166 Main Street
Antigonish, NS
B2G 2B6

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