Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

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Here you will see before and after restoration photos of the beautiful art work on the exterior of this historic 1864 building.

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Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1714 Robie Street, Halifax, N.S.

Caretaker of the province’s impressive collection of regional, national and international art. The fine Victorian Italianate facade of the building dates back to 1864 when the 12-foot statue of Britannia looked down on an outdoor farmers’ market, active on this site for more than 100 years.

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Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Other Names:
Dominion Building

Description of Property: The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is a three and a half storey, Italianate style building located in the core of downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. T

he Art Gallery was built in 1868, modeled after the fifteenth and sixteenth century Italian palazzos built during the Renaissance period. Nova Scotia sandstone faces the exterior of the building and is included in much of the decorative elements of the building. Both the building and the surrounding property are included in the designation.

Heritage Value: The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is valued as a representation of the peak of Nova Scotia’s existence as a self-governing colony within the British Empire.

Also referred to as the Dominion Building, the Nova Scotia Legislature voted in 1863 to erect a building to house the Post Office, Customs House and Railway Department, as these institutions had vital roles in the economy of nineteenth century Nova Scotia.

Upon Confederation in 1867, the Post Office, Customs and Railways became federal responsibilities, though it was not until 1871 that the new federal government purchased the building from the province.

After its service as a Post Office, the building housed for a time the Bank of Canada and later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia now occupies the building.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is also valued as an excellent example of late nineteenth century Italianate style architecture.

Designed by David Stirling and built in 1868 under the direction first of contractor George Lang and competed by John Brookfield, the gallery is a three and a half storey, sandstone building.

The design of the building was influenced by the fifteenth and sixteenth century Italian palazzos of the Renaissance period.

The height of the building reduces the buildings proportions, while the triplet composition of the vertical and horizontal divisions and the grouping of the round-arched windows give the building a simple rhythm.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property File no. 085.

Character Defining Elements: Character-defining elements of the Nova Scotia Art Gallery include:

– Nova Scotia sandstone used throughout the exterior of the building including the statue of Britannica;
– decorative parapets.

Character-defining elements of the Italianate style of the Nova Scotia Art Gallery include:

– horizontal band of round-arched windows, separated by projecting stone cornices at the first, second and roof levels;
– windows grouped in threes, bordered by a single widow on the east and west side of the main façade;
– windows decorated with round arched hoods, keystones and recessed sills;
– quoins on the principle corners of the building;
– central window elements on the third floor;
– pedimented gable ends on both the east and west facades and a broken pedimented gable with return eaves on the three-storey main entrance projection;
– cornice at the roof level with dentils and heavy massing;
– two large stone-clad chimney flues.

Street Address: 1741
Hollis Street

Community: Halifax
Province: Nova Scotia
Ownership of Historic Place: Provincial
Construction Circa Date: Built 1861 – 1868

Web: Web Address Description Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) web site with information on the exhibits, collections, etc.

See Also:
Supporting Documentation: Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6
Formally Recognized by: Authority Type Statute Date
Province of Nova Scotia Provincially Registered Property Heritage Property Act Oct 17, 1988

Functional Category(ies): Current – Education – Museum
Historic – Government – Post Office
Historic – Government – Customs Building
Historic – Government – Office or office building

Theme Category: 1 : Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life – Learning and the Arts
2 : Governing Canada – Government and Institutions
/Architect/Builder: Associated EPOAB Associated EPOAB Type
George Lang Builder
John Brookfield Builder
Confederation (1867) Event
David Stirling Architect / Designer

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