THE VANISHING FACES OF KENTVILLE (January 2/12)

Yet another of the old homes that once graced Kentville disappeared when a bulldozer razed the former premises of the H.C. Lindsay Funeral Home last fall.

Known at one time as the Elmsdale, the house was built around 1840 by a Kentville merchant, Caleb Hanley Rand.  Mabel Nichols, in The Devil’s Half Acre and Louis Comeau in Historic Kentville, feature this house in their books, the latter including a photograph.  The house has historic connections – with Kentville’s first business tycoon Henry Magee (1739-1806) with the Dominion Atlantic Railway and with leading Kentville magistrates and physicians.

Another fine old Kentville home that yielded long ago to the bulldozer, had connections with this newspaper.  This was the home of Kentville’s first leading newspaper publisher, George W. Woodworth.  Deemed a “Valley landmark” by daily and weekly newspapers when it was demolished, the house, known as the “Woodworth Place,” stood on the corner of east Main Street and Prospect Avenue for 120 years.

Woodworth was the publisher and editor of The Western Chronicle, established in 1873, a weekly paper some sources say may have amalgamated later with The Advertiser.  The Woodworth house was deemed by a provincial daily newspaper to be “quite a centre for political activity.”  One member of the Woodworth family connected with the house defeated Sir Frederick Borden and served in the Provincial Legislature and House of Commons.

When the Dominion Atlantic Railway decided to build a new Cornwallis Inn and relocate it across town, two of Kentville’s most beautiful homes  were torn down to make room for it.  In her book, The Devil’s Half Acre, Mabel Nichols writes that the houses were “victims of progress.”

These houses were once owned by the Websters, which Arthur W. H.  Eaton salutes as one of Kentville’s leading families in its early days.  The two houses, The Chestnuts and The Birches were built respectively by Dr. Isaac Webster, Kentville’s first physician, and Dr. Henry Barkley Webster.  Eaton writes that one of the Websters, Dr. William Bennet, was “probably the most enterprising and far-seeing man (Kentville) in its early history had.”  Dr. Webster, says Eaton, laid out Church Street and Webster Street, completing the “Kentville square” which also comprised Main and Cornwallis Streets.

Readers interested in another early Kentville house that was a victim of progress are directed to Mabel Nichols write-up on the Charles Webster home.  Nichols writes that this house once was Kentville’s oldest landmark.  I recall not only seeing this beautiful house in photographs but I actually walked through what remained of it several times in the 1950s.

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