The Ramey House

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553 Lahave Street

This is the oldest home in town. Built as early as 1770, this home has survived many storms, disasters and town developments. Its simple design reflects the general simplicity of early settlement homes. Its longevity illustrates the sustainability of heritage homes.

 

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The Ramey House

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The Ramey House in summer 2011

     The oldest existing home in Bridgewater stands overlooking the river, at 553 Lahave Street. Commonly known as "The Ramey House", this home may have been built as early as 1770, according to oral sources, but it is known for certain that it was standing in 1888 when A.F. Church created his map of Lunenburg County. The simply designed home was built with practicality in mind. A fireplace was built in each room and its windows are set tight to its eaves, keeping the home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

     The Ramey house is a testament to the strength and sustainability of heritage homes. In the almost two centuries of its lifetime, the house has seen many devastating events happen to the Town. It survived many fires, including the Great Fire of 1899, which ravaged both King Street and Lahave Street, leaving little behind. The home withstood the destructive wind and rain storm of September, 1940, that shocked the Town and left the Community with overwhelming damages. Clearly, the early settlers of Bridgewater knew how to build a home to last.

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A portion of the A.F. Church Map, with the Ramey House highlighted. This map was created in 1883. 

      Some feared that the development of Superstore on Lahave Street might result in the destruction of this vital heritage home, but fortunately the developer was interested in only the east side of Lahave St and left the Ramey house unaffected. Though residential, commercial, and industrial development have changed many streetscapes in the area, the Ramey house has remained  a family home to various families, including five generations of the Ramey family for whom the home is named. Mr. Benjamin Ramey was the first Ramey to inhabit the home, after buying it in 1851. Benjamin was a lumber merchant and had livestock and chickens across the road, as well as in a barn behind the house.

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This 1919 photograph of the the Lahave River shows the Ramey House, circled. 88.1.73 PC

     The home's very first owner was a very notable man. John Bolman was a surgeon born in Magdeburg, Germany, who performed surgery in the American Revolutionary War.  Bolman lived in Lunenburg about 54 years, but also owned a substantial amount of land in the Bridgewater area. Bolman also represented Lunenburg in the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia.  It is unknown if Bolman lived in the house himself or exactly how long he owned it, but it is interesting to note this prominent man's connection with the historic home.

     The Ramey house has undergone many renovations over the course of its life, but still stands. Through the ever changing and growing community, the Ramey house has stood the test of time and hopefully will stand for many years to come.

 

Bibliography

[1] Inventory Site Form: 553 Lahave St. Built Heritage Files: DesBrisay Museum.

[2] Built Heritage File, Mrs. Helen Keirsted

[3] Bridgewater Fire 1899 (Reference file)

[4] Climate (Reference file), Bridgewater Bulletin, "Looking Back", High Wind/Rain Storm

[5] "Heritage house not affected", John Cunningham. The Lighthouse Log. March 28, 1994. Built Heritage Files: DesBrisay Museum.

[6] Built Heritage File, Inventory Site Form

[7] Built Heritage File, Historical Overview

[8] Built Heritage File, Mrs. Helen Keirsted

[9] "The Diary of Adolphus Gaetz" in Bolman Family file. Biography Files: DesBrisay Museum