Wood was the dominant medium of construction in 19th- and early 20th-century Nova Scotia. However, it should be noted that not all buildings were designed in a single historical style. Although the basic front-gabled style of Classical Revival was pervasive in 19th-century Antigonish, many buildings incorporated features selectively and often blended different styles. Eclecticism, exemplified by a mixture of various stylistic forms within the same building, was a typical characteristic of 19th-century architecture.

NEO-CLASSICAL c. 1810-1830

  • inspired by British Georgian designs
  • balanced proportions
  • low pitched roof
  • centrally located door with semi-elliptical or fanlight door transom
  • often includes classically detailed
  • pediment and columns


  • New England antecedents
  • usually 1 1/2 storey wood, brick or stone structure with almost square plan
  • centred doorway with transom
  • small plain dormers or Scottish 5-sided dormers or large tringular dormer integrated into roof line
  • unadorned exterior with minimal trim
  • shingled or clapboard exterior
  • extension added to rear or side


  • emphasis on straight line and symmetry
  • 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 storeys
  • medium or steeply pitched gable roof or hip roof
  • often features a central pedimented porch or portico
  • central door accented by rectangular transom and sidelights
  • popular designs include temple-fronted buildings
  • another popular design is front gable plan. With this design, the house is placed on short-side facing street and the door is off centre because of narrow width of plan. Popular for narrow street frontages; favoured by developing towns and cities.
  • decorative classical features include dentils, returned eaves, pilasters, flat or pedimented hoods over windows

GOTHIC REVIVAL c. 1850 to 1870

  • emphasis on the vertical line
  • main objective is visual effect rather than balance and symmetry
  • one-and-a-half storey
  • pointed arched windows and door openings are dominating features
  • sharply pitched roofs with numerous gables
  • use of decorative "gingerbread" wood trim on veranda [treillage] or vergeboards along eaves. Much trim was mass produced by machines.
  • Gothic or Modified-Gothic with ell and front porch continued to be built in rural Canada into the 1890s.

ITALIANATE c. 1850S TO 1870S

  • two-storeys high
  • blocky and square in appearance
  • often includes square tower or projecting central section [frontispiece]
  • low pitched hip roof
  • wide eaves with prominent decorative brackets
  • round-headed window and door openings as decorative accents
  • often features veranda and cupola which crowns main structure
  • details of style used in both rural and urban houses and commercial buildings well into 20th century

SECOND EMPIRE c. 1860s to 1880s

  • mansard roof which permits full use of top floor space and eliminates sloping ceilings of gable roof
  • irregular building outline
  • sometimes includes decorative iron cresting on roof tops
  • sometimes features projecting centre towers and first- or second-storey bay windows

QUEEN ANNE REVIVAL c. 1885 to 1900

  • eclectic and asymmetrical in outline
  • steep roof and tall chimneys
  • two or more storeys high
  • often includes two-storey bays
  • circular tower usually offset with candle-snuffer peaked roof
  • often includes prominent projecting or eyebrow dormers
  • shaped verandah
  • façade, especially front gable, covered in variety of contrasting decorative shingle patterns


  • Romanesque Revival
  • heavy rough-textured masonry
  • asymmetrical design
  • often incorporates round towers
  • wide arched windows and door openings, heavily accented with ornate detailing
  • style largely confined to churches and administrative buildings erected in post-1880 period
  • Beaux Arts
  • stylized classical proportions and details
  • theatrical and monumental in design
  • Chateau
  • irregular roofline
  • steeply pitched gables
  • multiple tall chimneys
  • evokes images of 14th- and 15th- century French chateau and early Quebec prototypes


  • emphasis on solidity and balance
  • square plan
  • two storeys high
  • pyramidal hipped roof
  • usually includes columned veranda
  • front dormer
  • sometimes features large off-centre doorway
  • most popular form of the foursquare was the "Eastbourne" which was available in pre-cut form.