CORNWALLIS INN TRIVIA (May 14/12)

In a note I received from Louis Comeau, he mentions an interesting aside on construction in 1930 of the Cornwallis Inn. To make way for the Inn, two houses on the site were removed – “the ‘Chestnuts’ owned by Deaconess Alice Webster #156 and the ‘Birches’ owned by Judge Barclay Webster #157.” And possibly the law offices of Webster and Robertson #72, Comeau said, noting the numbers quoted are from the Price map of 1894.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Cornwallis Inn replaced what in their time were two of the finest houses in Kentville. In the note, Comeau referred to the houses in a detailed list of what went into construction of the Inn. This list, all the facts and figures, must have been newsworthy in 1930. At least the editor of The Advertiser felt it was. The list was published in The Advertiser, the paper devoting its entire 38-page early December edition to the Inn’s opening.

The current renovations ongoing now at the Cornwallis Inn reminded me of Louis Comeau’s note. From curiosity I dug it out of my files, checking to see what the Cornwallis Inn was like originally and who the suppliers were. What amenities were offered when the Inn officially opened on December 8? Was there local input in the furnishing of the Inn? Was it a fact that all those tons of stone used in construction were quarried locally?

Answering the last question first, I see the Inn’s exterior consists of stone with an interesting name, New Minas quartzite. This material apparently came from rock formations, part of the so-called Wolfville Ridge, south of and immediately behind the village of New Minas. The stone is also called pink quartzite (for obvious reasons if you look at the various light shades of red in the exterior walls of the Cornwallis Inn). The quartzite from the New Minas formation was also used in buildings at Acadia University, by the way.

As for the amenities, each guest room in the Cornwallis Inn – there were 100 in all – featured a telephone, bath and radio, which may have been a hotel first for the Annapolis Valley. A formal dining room seating 200, a magnificent ballroom that would be the site of many Apple Blossom Festival dances in the future, and a barbershop, beauty salon and games room were among the other amenities. In addition, there were 10 sample rooms and several salons for meetings.

Work started on the Cornwallis Inn on March 15th and was completed 208 working days, on November 9th. From start to finish, total cost of constructing the Cornwallis Inn was $1,000,000. The Inn officially opened on December 8th with a banquet hosted by the Board of Trade.

Looking at the list provided by Louis Comeau, I see that only a few local retail stores were suppliers. Imagine all the furniture, carpeting, towels, soaps, etc., that was required to set up a spanking new hotel the size of the Cornwallis Inn. Most of this stuff came from provincial businesses but a few outside suppliers were also used.

One of the local suppliers of building material was L. E. Shaw Ltd. of Avonport. Shaw supplied the bricks, all 1200 tons of them. You didn’t need to know this but its interesting trivia.

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