The HoareHouse – First Impressions – Pt.1

In 2014 I met a wonderful couple who had recently retired and moved to Nova Scotia from Montreal. They purchased a very unique home located on the outskirts of Annapolis Royal. The house is made entirely of stone with a copper roof. The house was built as a summer home in 1933 by a wealthy American industrialist. Some postulate that he built this house as a haven in case war ever reached the US.

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The house has some very unusual features which make it interesting, yet extremely difficult to work on. The basement walls range in thickness from 28 to 36 inches, as do the stone walls which make up the exterior. There are steel I beams supporting each of the floors and partially finished attic. Most of the interior walls are at least one foot thick. There are two layers of brick with a layer of plaster and lath on each side. The wiring is run in steel conduit sandwiched between the layers of brick. Capping the house is a thick copper roof and three massive chimneys. The floors are a mix of stone, hardwood and tile. There are 22 rooms above ground, 5 bathrooms and several fireplaces. The house is heated with steam provided by two recently modernized boilers. The basement is a maze of rooms, each with thick, concrete walls. The attic is partially finished with a steel fire door that separates it from the unfinished portion. A central spiral staircase winds between the three floors.

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The house sits on a 350 acre parcel of land, which is a small portion of what was once a much larger estate which ended at the Bay of Fundy. The driveway is several hundred feet long, overhung with large, stately trees. Attached to the house is a two bay garage with what was once servants quarters above it. Also attached is a gardening shed and a moderately sized greenhouse. The grounds are dotted with orchards, shrubs, flower beds and other landscaping features. The house itself had fallen into a mild state of disrepair over the decades but still represented a grand structure with the right ideas and determination.

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Oddly enough, I first heard of this house while listening to a radio show on CBC. I tuned in during an interview with the new owners who were speculating on whether or not their house was equipped with hidden bunker, as was rumored by some of the local residents. Apparently the lawn did have some stand pipes, as well as several steel and concrete capped manholes. In the past, people have opened the covers exposing a deep, dark hole below but no one had ever ventured inside. After that and other topics, the interview concluded. I was intrigued but didn’t think much more about it until several months later when my phone rang. I received a call from a gentleman with a British accent inquiring about an LED retrofit for his rather large home. After a spirited conversation it suddenly dawned on me that this was the owner of the house I had heard on the radio show. A few days later I was meeting with owners and their project manager for the first time. We all got along famously and work soon began.

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In addition to the LED pot light retrofit, at this point there were several planned renovations. Extensive electrical upgrading was a must. Not only were there no existing pot light fixtures, there was very little lighting overall and nowhere near enough electrical outlets for a modern family. Although the house was very well constructed, the electrical system was showing its age. It goes without saying that there were no ethernet outlets and wireless internet was a difficult proposition in a house with foot thick brick walls, steel I beams between the floors and a copper roof.

More soon in Pt. 2



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