Shand House looks a little worse for wear these days, but the provincial government insists it won’t allow the historic home to decay.
The veranda will soon be fixed and a fresh coat of paint is in the works — but the museum will remain mostly closed to the public.
Stephanie Smith, director of Collections/Infrastructure with Nova Scotia Museums, said she’d like to change the sign in front of Shand House, so that instead of saying closed, it would say available by appointment and for special events. This, she says, would better reflect the true nature of when people can visit.
“We want to make this building accessible, we just have to make decisions on what does that mean,” she said. “The sign, as it stands now, is misleading and we can easily change that.”
Smith said the province does an annual maintenance survey of the Shand House property, inside and out.
She added that just because the house doesn’t have guests arriving every day to visit, it does not mean the building and the artifacts inside aren’t being looked after.
“We have 28 sites across the province, Haliburton is one of them, Shand is one of them, Prescott House near Wolfville,” she said, noting they have to make decisions around maintenance in the context of all of the properties.
“We know our buildings extremely well, and just like schools and hospitals, there’s a priority list.”
A historic home
Construction of the house started in 1890 and was completed in 1891.
It cost $6,000 at the time, which was a heavy sum back in the day.
It was built by Clifford and Henrie Shand, who owned the Windsor Furniture Factory on Cedar Street, which is now the Cedar Centre.
At the time, the house was considered a modern marvel, one of the first in the region that had electricity, central heating and other amenities.
The house was spared from the Great Windsor Fire in 1897, but a penny-farthing bicycle that belonged to Clifford Shand was mostly destroyed by the blaze.
That metal frame still sits upstairs.
Clifford and Henrie had two children, Gwendolyn and Errol, who had no children. Gwendolyn, the last person to live in the home, died in 1982, and gave the house to the province in her will, stating that it was to be used as a museum, otherwise demolished.
The house stands as a timepiece, a symbol of what a booming, industrial town was like in the 1890s and early 20th century. Many of the pieces, built at the former Windsor Furniture Factory, remain inside.
The only room that seems somewhat out of place is the kitchen, which has slightly more modern appliances, that would be more akin to something out of the 1950s or 60s.
Lynette MacLeod, media relations advisor with the Nova Scotia department of communities, culture and heritage, said that the department knows the Shand House is important to the local community.
“Over the past three years we have completed a number of repairs to maintain the home, including: replacing ceiling plaster, chimney flashing and leaking pipes in the heating system,” MacLeod said. “We have also invested into replacing sections of the main roof and shingles, as required.”
In the past three years the province has spent approximately $31,000 on the house.
MacLeod said the province is currently identifying funds to replace the veranda, repair the gutters and paint the exterior.
Shand House welcomed 181 visitors in 2017.