The municipality’s Heritage Advisory Committee is recommending Halifax regional council add two north end properties to the heritage registry, but a third scored too low.
The committee met virtually on Wednesday to consider and score the three properties — 2381 Moran St., 2587 Creighton St., and 2224 Maitland St. It was the first Heritage Advisory Committee open to the public in more than a year due to COVID-19.
During Wednesday’s meeting, municipal heritage planning researcher Elizabeth Cushing gave presentations on the three properties and recommended scoring ranges for each of them in six categories: age; historical or architectural importance; significance of architect/builder; architectural merit: construction type and style; architectural integrity; and relationship to surrounding area.
Properties that score more than 50 points out of a possible 100 move onto regional council with a recommendation from the committee to schedule a heritage hearing and register the property.
First up was 2381 Moran St., located at the corner of Moran and Sarah Streets, near Agricola in the north end.
Cushing told the committee that property owners Alex Livingston and Heather MacLeod applied to add the building, constructed between 1858 and 1860, to the registry.
The building is notable for its first inhabitant, carriage maker John M. DeWolfe, and in her report to the committee, Cushing wrote that the property “is a unique masonry residence and is a rare example of a double rowhouse with Italian Renaissance Revival style influences.”
The committee scored the property 68 out of 100, in the top range of Cushing’s recommendations.
Next was 2587 Creighton St., near the corner of Creighton and North streets. The property owner, Shelly Molgaard, applied to add it to the registry.
Built in 1891, the property scored well on age, but was lacking in the other categories.
Architect Walter Johannes Busch designed and built the home, but never lived in it. Busch is known for design of 10 schools in Halifax, including St. Patrick’s Girls’ High School, Chebucto Road Public School, Tower Road School, and Bloomfield School.
“It’s not strongly representative of the architect or the builder,” committee member Lois Yorke said during Wednesday’s meeting.
“I suspect that Busch built it and intended it to be working class housing and not to occupy it himself, so it just does not have significance, I would think. There’s a relationship to Busch, but it’s very tenuous.”
Coun. Patty Cuttell disagreed.
“I think that because it is probably built as tenant housing and maybe for workers, that it holds an interesting story,” Cuttell said.
“I think when people look at our city, whether they’re from here or from away, having that depth of understanding of our heritage and the people who built the city in all of their capacities, I think that adds real value.”
Municipal planner and heritage officer Aaron Murnaghan said the municipality is reconsidering its heritage scoring system to add weight for underrepresented groups like African Nova Scotians. Viola Desmond lived on this street in a home of a similar style, he said.
Coun. Iona Stoddard noted the African Nova Scotia history of the area, and said she’d support turning the area into a heritage conservation district.
The committee eventually scored the property 38, one above the maximum range in Cushing’s recommendations, but still well below the threshold for a recommendation to council. That means the proposed registry doesn’t go to council at all.
Cuttell called the result “unfortunate,” and said she looks forward to revised criteria.
“Evaluating this on outdated merit isn’t doing us any favours as a city, or as a neighbourhood, or as a heritage advisory committee,” Cuttell said.
Lastly, the committee considered 2224 Maitland St., a saltbox-style home located near the corner of Maitland and Cornwallis streets, built in 1840. Owner Beverly Miller applied to have the property added to the registry.
The municipality was unable to determine who designed and built the property, so it scored zero in that category, but Cushing recommended relatively high scores for the property based on the architecture itself.
The property “has historical and visual associations with the registered heritage properties at the St. George’s Round Church complex and the New Horizons Baptist Church,” Cushing wrote in the staff report.
“All of these properties are unique examples of early 19th century Halifax architecture.”
The committee scored the property 68 out of 100, the maximum number based on Cushing’s recommendations.