Prescott House (pictured above, from Dennis Jarvis’ Flickr), or “Acacia Grove” is located in the idyllic setting of Starr’s Point, near the historic village of Port Williams, Nova Scotia. It looks out to the Cornwallis River and across to the neighbouring town of Wolfville, the home of the Acadia University. As a matter of fact, you can see the University Hall from its upper windows. Charles Ramage Prescott purchased the land upon which it stands in 1811, and built this beautiful example of classical Georgian architecture during the years 1812 -14 or 16. He resided there until his death in 1859.
Charles Prescott was born January 6th, 1772 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was a wealthy merchant, privateer, politician, Justice of the Peace and horticulturist. He married first Hannah Whidden in 1796, by whom he had seven children. She died in 1813. He then second married to Mariah Hammill in 1814 and had an additional five children by her. When he was about forty and in ill health, Charles Prescott retired from his busy life in Halifax to Starr’s Point. Here he must have regained his health for he lived to the ripe old age of 88. His gravestone can be viewed at the Port Williams Baptist Church Cemetery.
He is remembered and recognized mostly for his great contribution to the apple industry in Nova Scotia. It is said that he grafted and tested more than 100 varieties of apples and nearly 50 varieties each of pears and plums and he generously shared these varieties with other cultivators. Although this long pre-dated commercial fruit-growing in the province, he is credited with having introduced six of the ten varieties of apples, including the Gravenstein, (one of the most popular of apples,) leading the market during Nova Scotia’s heyday as an apple producer and one which is also still grown today. After his death Acacia Grove was sold; it passed through the hands of several different families, and by 1896 the beautiful house had fallen into disrepair and was abandoned. In 1930 it was rescued and restored to it previous grandeur by one of Charles Prescott’s great granddaughter’s, Mary Allison Prescott. She was even able to retrieve some of the original furnishings and family paintings.
Today the Prescott House operates from June 1st – October 15th, as a Museum and is designated as both a National Historic Site and a Provincial Historic Site. It’s a beautiful peaceful place, with picturesque landscaping and gardens outside and gracious antique furnishings, ceramics and oriental rugs to view inside. On the main level there is a lovely parlour, dining room, sun room and even a library stocked with a wonderful collection of old books. The Prescott house is well worth a visit and is open from Monday-Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays from 1 pm – 5 pm. The staff is very friendly and well versed on the history of the house and the area. Admission is also extremely reasonable at $3.60 for adults, Ages 6 -17 and Seniors – $2.55, Children under 5 are free and they also offer a family rate for $7.95. Drop by sometime!
On August 21st, 2010, the Prescott House Museum hosted a nineteenth century evening. Four (including our newest member, Katherine), of the Man The Capstan crew attended in full period dress. We were completely delighted with the warm welcome we received from the staff and can’t wait to go back for another visit. There were upstairs readings from Prescott family letters, a charming re-enactment in the dining room, tea and refreshments on the lawn, a tour of the garden, and country dancing in the parlour by The Playford Dancers of Dartmouth. It was a grand time and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
Now… I really want to take some country dance lessons…