Three Homes of James Curll

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45 Maple St., 57 King St., and 325 King St.:

The Three Homes of James A. Curll

James A. Curll was Bridgewater's first Town Clerk in the early 20th century and served as a curator of Judge DesBrisay's collection of curiosities. Curll lived in three different homes in Bridgewater, all of which are well preserved today and all of which have been used as rectories.

 

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James A. Curll

     James A. Curll became a prominent man in the town of Bridgewater in the mid 19th century until his death in the early 20th century. He was very active in the town, acting as the very first Town Clerk and being a member of many organizations and public services. He was born in Lunenburg on May 7, 1846 and moved to Bridgewater when he was 22 years old. He married Amelia Dauphinee of Lunenburg and together they had 5 sons and 4 daughters. He was an active member of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church and the Masonic Temple, as well as the secretary of the Lunenburg County Exhibition and the school board. Curll was even a founding member of the Bridgewater Fire Department.

     Even before the Town of Bridgewater was incorporated, James A. Curll was involved in politics. Curll is listed in History of the County of Lunenburg by Mather Byles DesBrisay, as being a Councillor for the Municipality of Lunenburg and New Dublin. Curll was a member of Conservative party and won the election in November, 1879.

     In addition to his political career, Curll was also a magistrate, an insurance agent and a real estate agent. His office was located in the Wade Building on King Street but it burned down in the fire of 1899. After the incorporation of the Town of Bridgewater, James Curll became the first Town Clerk and held the position for more than 25 years. During his time as Town Clerk, Curll was also curator of Judge DesBrisay's collection, as it had been purchased by Mayor E. D. Davison in 1900 and given to the town.

673_DBP136_James_Curll_at_Court_House

James Albert Curll, standing in front of the Court House on Pleasant St. 673 DBP136

     James A. Curll died on Friday, January 28, 1939 at the age of 92, and was buried in Brookside cemetery with full Masonic honours.  He spent 71 years in Bridgwater and owned at least three different homes during this time.

45 Maple Street

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45 Maple Street in 2012

     Built in the Lunenburg Vernacular Style, 45 Maple Street is an eclectic mixture of styles producing a very unusual looking home. Perhaps most unusual is the five-sided, Scottish dormer that decorates the roof. It makes the home particularly notable because the Scottish dormer is a rarity in Bridgewater. It also adds visual interest, as it was built slightly offset from the center of the roof. Matching bay windows with decorative moulded panels are located on the front and side of the house. Every window, excluding the bay windows and the Scottish dormer, is complete with moulded window hoods.

     The home features wide cornerboards, complete with capitals, and returned eaves. The doorway is elaborate with sidelights and a transom window, wide pilaster trim and a pedimented porch. Its facade is asymmetrical, with the exception of two chimneys equidistant from each end of the house.

     The home was built around 1880. Its first owner was James A. Curll, the already mentioned Town Clerk. Not long after its construction, a deal was struck between Curll and the trustees of the Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church felt they needed a manse closer to their church, which was located on the corner of Maple Street and St. Andrews Street. Curll would sell his house to the trustees for $ 2,500. In return, the trustees would sell their King St. manse to Curll for $ 2,500. Essentially, the trustees and Curll seem to have agreed to swap their houses, and no real money exchanged hands. On the A. F. Church map, dated 1883, 45 Maple is listed as "Presbyterian Manse".


57 King Street

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57 King St., in the summer of 2012, while undergoing some renovations.

     57 King Street was built by the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church in 1858.  It served as the church's manse for over 30 years.  Around 1880, when a new Presbyterian church was built at Maple Street and St. Andrews Street, the church decided it needed a manse closer to their new building.  57 King Street was swapped with 45 Maple Street and James Curll became the new owner of 57 King Street. Curll and owned it for 21 years, until 1901.

     The home was built by William Kemp, a local carpenter, in the Lunenburg Vernacular style.  The house's most noticeable feature is the steep gothic dormer flanked by two five-sided Scottish dormers that extend into the bay windows at the first-floor level.  The Scottish dormers are decorated with moulded panels, as are the bay windows.  The Gothic dormer is complete with a pointed Gothic window.  The house has returning eaves and wide, indented cornerboards that end in capitals.  The doorway is large and central with decorative panels, pilasters, and sidelights.  The front veranda and the ell at the rear were likely later additions.

     On the A.F. Church map, dated 1883, the house is listed as J.A. Curll.


325 King Street

     This house is fairly intact except for a large window added on the front facade. It is plainly trimmed except for the central, projecting frontispiece, which has interesting round headed, mullioned windows with curved moulded hoods, and a single round headed window in its attic pediment. Each veranda post is topped with a moulded capital.

     The land was owned by William R. Clarke. In 1872, because of its close proximity to the Baptist church, it was sold to the Trustees of the Bridgewater Baptist Church to become the Baptist parsonage. It acted as the Parsonage until 1889, when it was sold to the Curll family. In April of 1889, the Trustees of the Baptist Church decided to accept the Curlls offer of $950.00 unless the Curlls would pay more. The Curlls would not pay any more than $950.00, and the sale went ahead.

325_King

325 King St. in summer 2012. The home is currently used by Bridgewater Baptist Church as an office and an apartment.

     The deed was under the name of Amelia Curll, the wife of James Curll and stayed in her name for over 50 years, until it changed hands in 1942.  Perhaps the house had been rented, during those 50 odd years, because Amelia Curll passed away January 9, 1930 and her husband passed away nine years later on January 27, 1939[14].  The house remained in the Curll name for four more years suggesting that a son or daughter lived in the home, or that it was being rented out until the Curll estate decided to sell the property.  For several years, the Curlls owned this property and 57 King Street, which suggests that one or the other home was likely not occupied by the Curll family at that time.

     Other influential people who have owned this home include Herber Sweeney's wife Mildred (from 1940-1942) and W. T. Ritcey's wife Bessie (from 1944-1947). Herber Sweeney was an undertaker who established Sweeney's Funeral Home and W.T. Ritcey was the president of Acadia Gas Engines and the 7th mayor of Bridgewater.

Bibliography

[1] Tom Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing Limited, 2008), 165.

[2] Sheppard, 165.

[3] M. B. DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 3rd ed. (Bridgewater: The Bridgewater Bulletin Ltd., 1967) 446.

[4] McAlpine's Directory 1890-97, 863.

[5] "Up and Down Main: Business Lost," Halifax Herald, January 13, 1899.

[6] G.I.K. Feindel, "History of the DesBrisay Museum, 1860-1975, Bridgewater, N.S.", September, 1975.

[7] Sheppard, 165.

[8] "45 Maple Street", Built Heritage Files.

[9] "45 Maple Street", Built Heritage Files.

[10] Bill Plaskett, "57 King Street", Built Heritage Files, September 26, 1985.

[11] Plaskett, "57 King Street".

[12] Hutchinsons Nova Scotia Directory, 1864-65, 397.

[13] Bill Plaskett, "325 King Street",

[14] The South Shore Genealogical Society, Cemetery Inscriptions for Lunenburg County, 2nd Series, Volume A, (1995), 126.