66 Hawthorne Street, c. 1880

66 Hawthorne Street is a splendid example of the villa-style Italianate architecture. This fashionable romantic design was inspired by the early villas of the Italian Renaissance. It was a popular house design throughout Canada, especially among the well-to-do, from the 1840s to 1880s. The style was widely disseminated via pattern books. This house draws on many of the key elements of the Italianate vocabulary. It features the low pitched hip roof, long windows, overhanging eaves decorated with ornamental brackets, elaborated window hoods, a projecting windowed tower and squared 3-sided, 2-storey bay windows. Italianate strived for visual effect through its asymmetrical plan and the complexity of elements which highlighted the interplay of light and shadow. The decorative arcaded single-storey gallery was also a hallmark of Italianate and accentuated the illusion of the rural retreat. Although the house has not suffered the indignities of vinyl siding or artificial stone, it should be noted that the towered entrance once featured windows framed with rounded mouldings with keystone detailing and was flanked by a bay window.

66 Hawthorne Street was originally the residence of Henry H. McCurdy, owner of McCurdy & Company. He had one of the best credit ratings in town and his house epitomized the mercantile wealth of Antigonish. In 1902 he sold the residence for $3,250 to Gustavus Bernasconi, a Swiss-born engineer creditted with the design of St. Paul's Anglican Church. From 1914 to 1924, the house functioned as Antigonish's first maternity hospital under the direction of the Sisters of Saint Martha. As the "House of Providence" it served as the birthplace of many of Antigonish's older residents today.

Bernasconi Family at 66 Hawthorne

Carolyn Lewis

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