de Gannes-Cosby House National Historic Site
The de Gannes-Cosby House was designated as a national historic site in 2019.
Commemorative plaque: 477 St. George Street, Annapolis Royal, Nova ScotiaFootnote 1
De Gannes-Cosby House
This house, built in 1708 for French officer Louis de Gannes de Falaise with funds provided by King Louis XIV, is a rare example of a pre-Deportation residence in Acadie. It is typical of the houses inhabited by the colonial officer class under both French and British rule. After 1727, it served as a residence for British officer Alexander Cosby, lieutenant-governor of the Fort and town of Annapolis Royal. This carefully restored house retains many original features including post and beam framing, sections of wattle and daub infill, massive floorboards, fine pine paneling and a fieldstone foundation.
de Gannes-Cosby House
The de Gannes-Cosby House, built in 1708, is a rare surviving example of a pre-Deportation residence in Acadia, and it bears witness to the history of French and British rule in the region. It is typical of the houses inhabited by colonial officers in Port-Royal/Annapolis Royal. Constructed for French officer Louis de Gannes de Falaise, in 1727 it became the residence of British Major Alexander Cosby, who served as lieutenant-governor of the fort and town of Annapolis Royal. This carefully restored house retains many original features including post and beam framing, sections of wattle and daub infill, massive floorboards, fine pine paneling and a fieldstone foundation.
Founded within Mi’kma’ki, the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq, Annapolis Royal was once known as Port-Royal and was the capital of the French colony of Acadia between 1605 and 1710. During this time, Port-Royal was repeatedly besieged and captured as the French and British empires fought for supremacy in North America. The house was built in 1708 for Major Louis-Joseph de Gannes de Falaise, a French nobleman and officer with the garrison, who had arrived in Port-Royal in 1701. It was constructed on the foundations of an earlier house which had been razed during the 1707 siege of Port-Royal by the British. After the final capture of Port-Royal by the British in 1710, de Gannes de Falaise returned to France and the house was forfeited to the British Crown. It later served as the residence of the lieutenant-governor of the fort and town, beginning with Major Alexander Cosby. Cosby and, after his death in 1742, his wife Anne Winniett lived in the house from 1727 until 1788.
The de Gannes-Cosby House is located at 477 St. George Street, within the Annapolis Royal Historic District. It is a one-and-a-half-storey, rectangular building with an ell. The walls, which are of post and beam construction, were originally finished with clay wattle and daub. The house sits on a fieldstone foundation and is clad with wooden clapboard. The house has a distinctive gambrel roof with two front side dormers topped with pediments (added in the 20th century). The ell, constructed circa 1870, features three gabled dormers. It is intentionally painted a different, lighter colour to distinguish it from the main (1708) body of the house. The original house has a central hall plan with a full-length parlour on the south side and two rooms on the north side. On the second floor there are three bedrooms (one large, on the south side and two smaller, on the north) and a modern bathroom. The rear addition has a formal dining room with summer kitchen and pantry on the main level and two bedrooms and a bath above.
In the years since 1788, the house was rented and then sold numerous times. Its current owners have spent years restoring the house and furnishing it with period pieces, and today the importance of the house to the community is widely recognized.
Backgrounder last update: 2023-08-03
Description of historic place
De Gannes-Cosby House National Historic Site of Canada is located on St. George Street, the primary residential and business thoroughfare in downtown Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This rare surviving example of pre-expulsion Acadian residential architecture was built in 1708. A one-and-a-half-storey rectangular building with an ell, it features a gambrel roof with dormers, a painted clapboard exterior, and a later rear addition. A brick path leads past a low rock boundary wall to the central main entrance protected by a two-storey, enclosed porch. The house is surrounded by lawn, mature trees and bushes while a shared drive leads to a carriage house at the rear of the property. Official recognition refers to the current legal property of the de Gannes-Cosby House.
The de Gannes-Cosby House was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2019. It is recognized because:
- the original house, constructed in 1708, is a rare surviving example of a pre-expulsion Acadian residence and it reflects such characteristic attributes as wood frame, wattle-and-daub infill, and fieldstone foundation; it has been carefully restored and many of its original interior and exterior features – including massive floor boards, beams, wall paneling, chimneys and sections of wattle-and-daub infill – are intact;
- as the home of two prominent and influential early military figures, Major Louis de Gannes de la Falaise and Major Alexander Cosby who served as lieutenant-governor of the Fort and Town of Annapolis Royal, the house bears witness to both French and British rule and illustrates the type of house built and lived in by the colonial officer class in the early years of the settlement.
The de Gannes-Cosby House is a very rare surviving example of pre-expulsion Acadian residential architecture. It bears witness to both French and British rule and is the type of house built and lived in by the colonial officer class, reflecting the history of early settlement in the region. The de Gannes-Cosby House is the oldest documented wooden structure in Nova Scotia to date and has been continuously occupied since its construction. Built in the Acadian style, it is one of the few buildings dating from the French regime in Nova Scotia (prior to 1710) that is still standing. The de Gannes-Cosby House remains as the only visible reminder of almost 120 years of Acadian settlement. Over the years, it has evolved with several changes to the interiors.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2018.
The National Program of Historical Commemoration relies on the participation of Canadians in the identification of places, events and persons of national historic significance. Any member of the public can nominate a topic for consideration by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
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