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1. Hal­i­fax City Hall, Grand Pa­rade 1841 AR­GYLE STREET

One of the most pop­u­lar venues on our ros­ter! The cur­rent City Hall was opened to Coun­cil and the pub­lic in 1890, re­plac­ing of­fices in the old court­house on the wa­ter­front. Rich in his­tory, it’s one of the finest ex­am­ples of an ar­chi­tec­tural style pop­u­lar with ma­jor govern­ment build­ings of the day through­out the Bri­tish Em­pire and the United States.

Be­fore Hal­i­fax City Hall was built, Dal­housie Univer­sity was lo­cated on this site. When City Hall first opened, it also housed the provin­cial mu­seum, the city li­brary, and the city jail. Fa­mous es­cape artist Harry Hou­dini ex­tri­cated him­self from a jail cell in the base­ment of City Hall in 1896.

City Hall has been the work­place for some of Nova Sco­tia’s most fa­mous politi­cians, in­clud­ing Joseph Howe and Alexan­der Keith. Dur­ing Doors Open Hal­i­fax week­end, vis­i­tors can take a seat in the mayor’s chair and view a short video on the his­tory of City Hall. Check out the clock on the north (Duke Street) face. It’s per­ma­nently set at 9: 04 – the ex­act time the Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion oc­curred on De­cem­ber 6, 1917.

2. Do­min­ion Pub­lic Build­ing 1713 BED­FORD ROW

A fa­vorite with Doors Open vis­i­tors, this Rec­og­nized Fed­eral Her­itage Build­ing has been a land­mark on the Hal­i­fax skyline for over 80 years. At thir­teen storeys, this Art Deco-style “sky­scraper” was the tallest build­ing in Hal­i­fax un­til the 1960s. The Do­min­ion Pub­lic Build­ing was built by the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works, com­pleted in 1936 dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion, and is a last­ing ex­am­ple of the fed­eral govern­ment’s ef­forts to stim­u­late the econ­omy in a time of un­prece­dented eco­nomic cri­sis. To­day, the build­ing houses ap­prox­i­mately 400 em­ploy­ees of Pub­lic Works and Govern­ment Ser­vices Canada.

The high qual­ity crafts­man­ship and ma­te­ri­als are clearly vis­i­ble in the smooth, sim­ple fa­cades high­lighted with dec­o­ra­tive carv­ings in the ma­sonry, typ­i­cal of Clas­si­cal Mod­ern de­sign. Visit the beau­ti­fully ren­o­vated atrium, typ­i­cally closed to the pub­lic, which over­looks Hal­i­fax Har­bour. Be­fore ex­it­ing, be sure to ad­mire the exquisitely crafted stone sea­horses and the orig­i­nal brass postal wick­ets in the mar­ble lobby.

3. Govern­ment House 1451 BAR­RING­TON STREET

Come visit the old­est vice-re­gal res­i­dence in North Amer­ica. Govern­ment House has been the res­i­dence of the Sov­er­eign’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Nova Sco­tia for more than 200 years. In 1848, re­spon­si­ble govern­ment was es­tab­lished here for the first time in the Com­mon­wealth out­side of the UK. For Doors Open Hal­i­fax week­end only, vis­i­tors can see the state rooms where Queen El­iz­a­beth and other mem­bers of the royal fam­ily sleep when­ever they visit Hal­i­fax, and view an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of art and an­tiques. Por­traits and ar­ti­facts de­pict­ing the rich and di­verse his­tory of Nova Sco­tia are on dis­play in ev­ery room. Ex­pect a warm wel­come at the front door from “Lord and Lady Went­worth.”

4. North­front Case­mates, Hal­i­fax Ci­tadel 5425 SACKVILLE STREET

The North­front case­mates are a suite of rooms built within the walls of the Hal­i­fax Ci­tadel. Their name refers to their lo­ca­tion in the Ci­tadel, the “north front” be­ing a sec­tion of the ram­parts on the north end of the fort. A “case­mate” is es­sen­tially a type of bomb-proof room or bunker, built of stone or brick, with an arched ceil­ing. The arched con­struc­tion is very strong and re­sis­tant to im­pact from above. The thick walls of the Ci­tadel fea­ture over fifty such rooms, built in­side the walls and com­pletely buried in sev­eral feet of earth and rub­ble for added pro­tec­tion from po­ten­tial can­non fire. Th­ese rooms were con­structed in the 1830s and 1840s as part of the fourth and fi­nal Bri­tish fort to be built on top of Ci­tadel Hill.

5. Nova Sco­tia As­so­ci­a­tion of Ar­chi­tects 1361 BAR­RING­TON STREET

Home to the Nova Sco­tia As­so­ci­a­tion of Ar­chi­tects (NSAA) for over 30 years, Stod­dard House at the cor­ner of Bishop and Bar­ring­ton Streets oc­cu­pies a prom­i­nent lo­ca­tion next door to Govern­ment House, the res­i­dence of the Lieu­tenant Gover­nor of Nova Sco­tia. The orig­i­nal build­ing was con­structed in 1828 as St. Matthew’s manse and bears the name of Wal­lace Street chis­eled into one of the build­ing’s side stones. Em­bed­ded in the side­walk by the cor­ner of the build­ing is a cap­tured can­non from the Fortress of Louis­burg, which was brought to Hal­i­fax as one of the spoils of war and buried par­tially un­der the earth with its capped muz­zle point­ing sky­ward.

As a Reg­is­tered Her­itage Prop­erty, the build­ing at 1359/ 1361 Bar­ring­ton Street has served many pur­poses, both res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial. Dur­ing its 188-year his­tory, it has been the lo­ca­tion of a restau­rant and an op­tometrist, and it’s be­lieved that renowned au­thor Lucy Maud Mont­gomery roomed on the third floor while study­ing at Dal­housie Univer­sity in the late 1890s. Stod­dard House is now a two-unit con­do­minium hous­ing the law firm of Gar­son Mac­Don­ald on the up­per two floors and NSAA on the lower two floors.

6. Old Town Clock, Hal­i­fax Ci­tadel Na­tional His­toric Site 5425 SACKVILLE STREET

The Town Clock, also some­times called the Old Town Clock or Ci­tadel Clock Tower, is one of the most rec­og­niz­able land­marks in all of Canada. While be­ing ab­so­lutely faith­ful to the orig­i­nal 1803 de­sign, the struc­ture was sub­stan­tially re­con­structed in the 1960s. It still con­tains the orig­i­nal func­tional clock mech­a­nism, made by the pres­ti­gious House of Vul­liamy in Lon­don, and op­er­at­ing since its in­stal­la­tion in 1803.

Prince Ed­ward, Duke of Kent, then com­man­der-inchief of all mil­i­tary forces in Bri­tish North Amer­ica, is cred­ited with com­mis­sion­ing the clock. It’s said that the punc­tu­al­ity- ob­sessed Ed­ward or­dered the clock in­stalled to re­solve the tar­di­ness of the lo­cal gar­ri­son. There was once a time in Hal­i­fax when no build­ings, not even churches, were al­lowed to be higher than the clock tower. The struc­ture func­tioned as a guard house, and later as the res­i­dence of the clock’s care­taker and his fam­ily un­til 1965.

7. St. Paul’s Angli­can Church, Grand Pa­rade 1749 AR­GYLE STREET

St. Paul’s Angli­can Church is the old­est Angli­can church in North Amer­ica and the old­est build­ing in Hal­i­fax. The church opened in 1750, one year af­ter the found­ing of Hal­i­fax. Ser­vices be­gan sev­eral months later, even though the in­te­rior took 10 years to com­plete.

The Ge­or­gian-style church was de­signed by James Gibbs, based on St. Peter’s Church in Lon­don, circa 1728. The orig­i­nal oak and pine frame that was pre­cut and shipped from Bos­ton con­tin­ues to sup­port the main part of the build­ing.

De­spite be­ing re­placed mul­ti­ple times, an Ar­gyle Street win­dow shows the pro­file of a young priest who, leg­end claims, crashed through it the morn­ing of the Hal­i­fax Ex­plo­sion.

Open Satur­day 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun­day 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m.

8. Sco­tia­bank Main Branch 1709 HOL­LIS STREET

This jewel of Cana­dian ar­chi­tec­ture will take your breath away. In 1930, pre-em­i­nent Cana­dian ar­chi­tect John Lyle was com­mis­sioned to de­sign a new head of­fice. This is the build­ing that now stands at 1709 Hol­lis Street, and it’s a rare ex­am­ple of Re­nais­sance-in­spired ar­chi­tec­ture in Canada.

Lyle trained in the Beaux-Arts style. He worked to de­velop a uniquely Cana­dian style of ar­chi­tec­ture and was in­spired by his con­tem­po­raries, the Group of Seven artists. He de­signed not only the struc­ture of the bank build­ing it­self, but also the fix­tures, fur­ni­ture and dec­o­ra­tive fea­tures, with mo­tifs de­pict­ing Cana­dian nat­u­ral and eco­nomic his­tory. Ev­ery sur­face of the build­ing is the re­sult of Lyle’s re­search on the plants, an­i­mals and ocean life of the Mar­itimes. This reg­is­tered her­itage prop­erty con­tin­ues to house Sco­tia­bank’s head of­fice, At­lantic re­gional of­fice, and Hal­i­fax main branch.

The Din­gle Tower

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