Description of Historic Place
The Hennessey Place Hydrostones are a six-unit two-storey structure built of hydrostone following the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917 which destroyed much of Halifax. The Hennessey Place Hydrostones are part of a roughly twenty-three acre neighbourhood known as the “Hydrostone.” The designation applies to the Hennessey Place rowhouse cottages and the land they occupy.
The Hennessey Place Hydrostones are a valued for its association with the 1917 Halifax Explosion and the rebuilding program between 1918 and 1922 that followed.
On December 6 1917 two ships, one carrying explosives, collided in the section known as the Narrows of the Halifax Habour. The resulting explosion devastated much of the North End of Halifax, flattening wooden buildings on either side of the Narrows. Those buildings that were not destroyed by the force of the explosion were destroyed by fires caused by overturned stoves. The explosion killed 1600 people and wounded 9000. The explosion also caused roughly thirty-five million dollars damage. The Halifax Relief Commission was established to deal with the tragedy and its aftermath.
Part of the rebuilding of the city included constructing homes for the hundreds of homeless families. The rebuilding of the North End was one of the first planned housing projects in Canada and the most ambitious utilization of concrete blocks undertaken at that time. Originally, the site was built to temporarily accommodate the almost 750 residents of the North End of Halifax who became homeless after the explosion. Planned by Thomas Adams and designed by George Ross, the site is a unique architectural district reflective of the stylish English Garden City design. Hydrostone was chosen as the building material. Hydrostone is stronger than wood, and more fire resistant.
Architecturally, the Hennessey Place Hydrostones are valued for their construction material, design and style. Hydrostone is named after the trade name of the hollow concrete block made in Eastern Passage, NS. The houses were designed to appear like plaster and wood construction. The design of the project was based on the popular English Garden style. It has rear service lanes for parking and all amenity services, and large treed boulevards that separate the blocks. The Hennessey Place Hydrostones have public and private access as well as private gardens. The six-unit two-storey rowhouses are a string of cottages that vary in form and the placement of the units, with two end units at right angles to the four center units, creates the appearance of many buildings. The front porch is an important structural feature of the houses. The "Arts and Crafts" style porch columns and open rafter ends are visible under the porch roof. The Hennessey Place Hydrostones combine Arts and Crafts building tradition and the design elements of the Tudor Revival style. The top floor has been reduced in scale and rendered over and moulded giving it a Tudor half-timbering style. There are four by two sash windows with wood frames.
Source: HRM Heritage Property File Hennessey Place Hydrostones, found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The character-defining elements of the Hennessey Place Hydrostones include:
- construction material of hollow concrete block known as ‘hydrostone’;
- faux exterior made to look like plaster and wood construction;
- English garden style neighbourhood layout;
- rear service lanes for parking and all amenity services;
- private gardens;
- cottages that vary in form;
- placement of the units, with two end units at right angles to the four center units;
- all elements of the Arts and Crafts building tradition including front porch in the "Arts and Crafts" style with columns and open rafter ends visible under the porch roof;
- all elements related to the Tudor Revival style including reduced scale top floor rendered over and moulded, giving appearance of half-timbering style;
- six-unit, each two-storeys;
- four-by-two sash windows with interior and exterior wood frames;
- location within the Hydrostone district.