Fletcher B. Wade & His House

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45 Pleasant Street

One of the most flamboyant and intricately decorated houses in Bridgewater is 45 Pleasant Street – formerly the Pleasant Rest Home. Though F. B. Wade – one of Bridgewater’s most prominent citizens at the time – owned it for only 13 years of its over 130 year history, he played such a part in the house’s decoration that it is still sometimes called the “Wade House”.


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The Life of Fletcher B. Wade


     Fletcher B. Wade was born to John Wade of Granville Ferry, Annapolis County, on September 9th, 1852. Originally moving to Bridgewater to teach, Wade ended up studying law with Bridgewater barrister W. H. Owen and passed the bar on May 20th, 1875. His law practice with Vincent J. Paton was a fixture of Bridgewater's legal scene during this period. Throughout the next 24 years of his life he became one of the most notable and wealthy men in Bridgewater. While working as a barrister, Wade became involved in the Liberal party. He played a key role in negotiating and financing the completion of the N.S. Central Railway, which reached Bridgewater in 1889. Upon returning to Annapolis, Wade was elected to the House of Commons and was subsequently named Chairman of the National Continental Railway Commission. While serving in this position, he died on May 23rd 1906 at age 54.

45 Pleasant St.: The Wade House

     The Wade House was built before Wade's tenure as owner. Charles Chase purchased the property in 1871 for $500 and sold it to Wellington Chase in 1873. Wellington sold it to Andrew J. Chase for $3,200 in 1875, suggesting that the house was likely built by Wellington Chase. F. B. Wade came into the picture in 1887, purchasing it after a mortgage had been foreclosed on Charles Chase.

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     Originally, the house had been the epitome of the French Second Empire style. The tall Mansard roof was flat on the top with an iron balustrade (railing) around the edge, similar to the iron-clad balconies of larger Second Empire structures. It had two round dormers on the front and side faces, each with rounded hood moulding sticking out at the ends, giving it the look of Palladian windows – a tall rounded window flanked by two shorter flat-topped windows on either side. This design was copied in the front door: a tall, rounded, double doorway had smaller sidelights on either side, each with a rounded top set into rectangular molding. The bay windows on either side of the doorway were each crowned with Mansard roofs themselves and they had a tall, rounded window on each of their three faces as well. Even the first-floor windows on each side borrowed this rounded style with slightly arched tops.  The trim was intricate all over, with fine brackets at each corner.


The rear of the Wade House. The tower dates this photograph to after Wade's renovation, sometime after 1887. 696 DBP3B



     A striking gothic dormer stood on the front, but has since been removed. The overall form was Second Empire and the detailing was more Italianate, but the dormer was a Neo-Gothic element and made the Second Empire style even more castle-like. A wide, steep, bell-cast dormer rose from above the intricate archway of the front door, peaking just above the rim of the Mansard roof. It held double rounded windows, with a small oculus (a small, round window) on top of them, right underneath the peak. Based on photographs and maps, it is possible to date at least the Mansard roof extension in the rear to before Wade's era.

     Wade expanded this already lavish home and turned it into a more intimidating Second Empire mansion, also adding to the Italianate detailing and injecting a bit of a Romanesque air. Wade turned the house's signature Neo-Gothic peak into a tall, stately four-storey tall Second Empire tower. Instead of having the tower descend all the way down the central bay, Wade had it stop just above the archway of the front door and had its base extend to form the roof of a veranda. Projections like this one are common in the Maritimes, especially the 'Lunenburg bump' (a five-sided Scottish dormer projecting through the eaves of a house, above the front door), named for its popularity in nearby Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

     While his tower remained rectangular, Wade did add on Lunenburg bumps over Chase's two bay windows, each sitting on the flat top of a bay's Mansard roof. The new dormers also had Mansard roofs.

     The tower is where the most intricate architectural details were added. Comparing pictures of the home from shortly after it was built and from today, it is still possible to see the double rounded windows that were present in Chase's gabled peak. These windows are now recessed underneath a broad, circular Romanesque Revival-style arch. The arch is accented with a scalloped frieze. The third storey of the tower features another set of double rounded windows, set in the clapboard siding. These are placed underneath rounded hood moulding that flares at its ends, complimenting the original windows.



     The uppermost storey of the tower sits high above the main building's roof – changed from flat to hipped- and has an exaggerated Mansard roof, with an extremely evident bell curve. The roof appears flat at the top, but is in fact a very shallow sloping hipped-roof. This type of roof is much more practical in Bridgewater's climate, as it allows for snow and rain to slide or drain off instead of collecting on top. Each side of the tower has its own rounded dormer with a flared end, smaller, but similar in shape to those originally on the front of the house, and still existent on the side.

     The porch, a pediment with four pillars, copies the door's design: a round arch in the centre with flat edges. The scalloped frieze is continued here to accentuate the porch's eaves and intricate brackets define two smaller arches underneath the roof's rectangular edges. Finally, Wade also added a wave-like wall alongside the main walkway to the entrance, flanking the original steps. These still stand.

     F. B. Wade bought the house for $3,557 in 1887 and sold the extensively renovated house to Hector McInnis in 1900 for $5,500; likely due to his many changes, he made a considerable profit. McInnis then sold the house to Fred W. Clark in 1906. He operated the renowned Clark's Hotel in the house until 1923. In 1918, Ruth Kedzie Wood said of Clark's Hotel:




     "To the man or woman in a strange country, there is nothing quite so welcome as a man who can give accurate, reliable, and common sense information about roads, routes, and distances. Mr. Clarke prides himself upon his intimate knowledge of the southern part of Nova Scotia and his advice is eagerly sought after. Clark's Hotel is always headquarters for tourists and travelers, who invariably speak in terms of highest praise of the excellence of the rooms, the superior table, the splendid service of Clark's Hotel, a haven for rest and refreshment."

     While in operation as a hotel, temporary additions were made in 1909. These additions were removed and made into houses in their own right in the late 1920s (24 and 39 Queen Street). The house became the Pleasant Rest Home in 1967, a residential care facility. Initially the facility was a retirement home, but not long after it began to be used as a residential care facility for those with mental illnesses. In 2000, the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services restricted the facility to residents under 65 years of age. After 32 years, the facility closed its doors to its 20 residents on July 31st, 2009.

     Though Wade's tenure as an owner was brief compared to the life of the house, he is remembered in the common name "the Wade House" for his many renovations to a very striking and beautiful home.


The Busy East of Canada: Bridgewater, c. 1918

Bridgewater Heritage and Historical Society and Friends of the DesBrisay Museum. (1999). One Hundred Years: A Pictoral History of Bridgewater. Bridgewater: Friends of the DesBrisay Museum and Bridgewater Heritage and Historical Society.

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Kedzie Wood, R. (1918). Clark's Hotel. The Tourist's Maritime Provinces , 182.

Levy, P. (2009, July 14). Forced to move. Bridgewater Bulletin , pp. A1,A3.

Penny, A. (1989). Houses of Nova Scotia. Halifax: Formac & Nova Scotia Museum.

Selig, G., & Plaskett, B. (1985). Historical Perspectives on a Modern Town: A Tour of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Bridgewater: DesBrisay Museum National Exhibition Centre.

Zinck, H. (1989, January 11). Symbol of a Bygone Era. Bridgewater Bulletin , pp. 1-2.