HALIFAX – Nothing could be more delicious than a chance to enter the beautiful Halifax homes we pass, as citizens moving through the city streets, wondering at their interiors.
From the outside, 6080 South Street is a charming grey house wearing the words ‘Acadia Cottage’ above its entrance. It bears the markers of an award winning Historical Halifax Property, and I first saw it as holding intimate pasts worth knowing.
During the afternoon of Sunday, April 10th, this picturesque cottage, as well as a Victorian home and a Cobb Home, located on Inglis Street and Victoria Road respectively, opened themselves up for special guest visitors for Dalhousie Art Gallery’s fundraising event Art at Home.
Their owners graciously led guests through their homes, and shared stories of love and wisdom for a tiny piece of built Halifax history. Amidst their listeners, there were enchanted feelings of nostalgia and curiosity which drove each of them inside.
As I opened the dark wooden door of 6080, with its imposing cast iron knocker, to the sun-drenched streets of South Street, a mass of gleeful guests came inside, their tickets held warmly. They had come to hear stories of their neighborhood homes, and to enjoy the magnificent art collections and original creations that each held within its bosom.
Let me introduce Wallace Brannen and Arianne Pollet: the artistic dwellers of this old Georgian cottage, built in 1816 as the Prior’s getaway from the hustle and bustle of the downtown and originally located across from the extant Waegwoltic Club. When the cottage faced demolition in 1950, Wally and Arianne’s current neighbour, Mrs. Dawson, came to its rescue, delivering it from danger and re-locating it to South Street (by truck!).
As one entered the first two rooms of the house, authentic to its 1816 design, the guests were privileged to an historical overview.
For the art gallery fundraiser, visitors admired the houses remarkable wood ceiling and floor planks, (some two feet in width!) which led them into the back addition, built in 1850. Finally, as the visitors passed down the stairs to the bottom floor and outside to Wally’s studio, they discovered a magnificent display of Arianne’s work, as well as his own as an art conservateur. Along the way, event guests noticed interesting pieces of clothing displayed on mannequins: these are the original works of Arianne, who fashions wearable art from old and discarded leather boots.
Each element enlivened the home with the spirit of the day: a mixture of jubilant conversation over art and architecture, and the wistfulness of untold narratives built into the surrounding walls.
It was a treat to hear about the architecture and view the art, to participate in sustaining the value of these historic moments in Halifax’s built history – a history well worth preserving, and above all, to be privy of the private spaces which make up the city scape and urban space.
Photos by Lauren Phillips