From time to time I will post photos or interesting facts about people and things that happened outside of the “Old North End”. Today’s post is to celebrate the wonderful photos of Arthur F. Pelton (1863-1944) a contractor and architect who was responsible for the construction of many prominent buildings, specifically churches, throughout Halifax at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries. All the photos below are from Arthur’s album.
“A Collection of Pictures from the Family Life of Arthur F. Pelton (1863-1944)”
Arthur Freeman Pelton was born in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada on 21 June 1863 son of Ebenezer Pelton. He married Agnes Susan MacDonald (b. at Liverpool, England 25 November 1867, d. at Halifax, NS 16 April 1940) daughter of Capt. Thomas MacDonald of Mt. Denson, Hants County along the Avon River on 3 August 1887. The Pelton’s would have one son to who lived to maturity – LeRoy Arthur Pelton, b. 16 July 1888.
Arthur would start his career in Amherst, Nova Scotia at the firm of Rhodes-Curry and Company Ltd. He relocated to Halifax in the early 1900s and established the business, of building materials and construction firm, in Halifax. This company was responsible for the construction of many prominent buildings and homes throughout Halifax. Pelton would become a prominent designer of churches and according to his obituary he is responsible for the design of West End Baptist Church as well as, pictured below, the Oxford Street Methodist Church which would burn down in 1920.
Pelton would relocated to Penticton, British Columbia where he opened his own firm and offices and took on the construction of many of that areas buildings. He also had an office in Kelowna, BC. Ca. 1914 Pelton and family relocated to Detroit, Michigan but eventually returned to Halifax where he was responsible for the closing out of Rhodes-Curry in Halifax. Pelton would go on to buy the materials of his former firm and would, along with partner G.L. Burroughs, found the Maritime Tile Company which sold mantel and tiles for homes.
Pelton was deeply involved in Halifax’s baptist community being the first choir leader of the Tabernacle Church and later at West End Baptist Church. His obituary states that he was an avid lover of automobiles and in particular Mrs. Pelton who was among the best known “motorists” in the region. Its also noted that Pelton was the first employer of W.D. Piercey who would go on to found Piercey Supplies Ltd. furthering the establishment of a prominent member of Halifax’s construction industry.
The photos below come from an extremely beautiful photo album beloning to Sheila Coolen of Halifax the great great granddaughter of Pelton via his great granddaughter Sheila (Doyle) Coolen (1936-2008).
Buildings pictures in the album
Unknown Row Houses, Halifax – The location of these houses is unknown but given that the majority of the development in Halifax at the time that the majority of these photos were taken, 1898-1911, being in the West End of Halifax it is quite possible that they are located somewhere in this area. [Note: due to some great detective work it has been determined that these buildings are located on the corner of North street and Robie street. Today the east portion of the house in the forefront has been removed and an addition has been added between the two buildings].
House, Willow Park – This house located at Willow Park Subdivision was designed by A.F. Pelton according to the album. The location of this house today is uncertain. There appears to only be one house left of the original Willow Park subdivision along Windsor Street. Willow Park was the subdivision of lands between Windsor and Oxford streets and Young and Vienna streets. Originally owned by Col. Bennett Henderson Hornsby who relocated from Kentucky to Halifax for the purposes of land speculation. This area of town was prominent in the 1880s and 1890s. Despite trying it appears that Hornsby wasn’t successful in selling lots throughout so for much of the late part of the 19th century it remained sparsely populated as by 1878 only 10 houses has been built.
Oxford Street Methodist Church, Halifax – built in the early part of the 20th Century to accommodate the rapidly expanding population in the West End of Halifax the Oxford Street Methodist Church stood at the corners of Oxford and Quinpool Road. It served the community for about 20 years before one night catching fire and being entirely destroyed. Not sure if this was a Rhodes-Curry project or whether or not this was a church designed by Pelton. He is noted as having been responsible for the design of West End Baptist Church which is located up the street on Quinpool Road and both churches are designed similarly with the steeple on the corner surrounded by the sanctuary and other rooms. Of interesting note in this photo is the street lights in the West End of Halifax at the turn of the century. Halifax is known as being one of the first cities to go completely electric for its street lights but this looks like a gas lamp???
Pine Hill Divinity College (now Atlantic School of Theology), Halifax – This building is located on Francklyn street in Halifax’s deep South End. Based on a photo provided by Stephen Archibald over Twitter (@Cove17) we have confirmed that the Rhodes & Curry were the builders of this building
House, Willow Street, Halifax – built ca. 1900-1905 this is a house that is still today located on Willow Street in Halifax, I believe it to be 6042 Willow Street. As you can see the back of the house which is located on the corner of Robie and Willow in the background.
Unknown Church – This church might also have been designed by Pelton. Its location is unknown completely as there is no reference in the album to when it was taken and where. It does appear to be made entirely of brick and is of an unusual architectural style for Halifax. [Update: thanks to the good eye of our followers that we’ve identified this church as St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church on Mumford Street, here’s a link to a photo on the Nova Scotia Archives website]
Temporary Housing, Windsor – These teepees were set up around Windor’s block house – Fort Edward– after the devastating fire which destroyed the town in 1897. The Pelton family lived in and around the Windsor area along the Avon River so had a direct connection with the town at this time. Many Peltons still live in the area today. You can see here the teepee which ere erected to house the residents of the town after the fire.
The Nova Scotia Archives has some wonderful photos of the the town before and after the fire. The fire was spread throughout the town by very strong Northwestly winds and could be seen from seventy miles away.
Bedford Highway, ca. 1898 – the photo album of A.F. Pelton has photos that show many areas across Nova Scotia (Mt. Denson, Windsor, Berwick, to name a few) but one of the most interesting that I find are pictures taken in and around Rockingham and Princes Lodge. This particular photo shows the Bedford Highway. The Peltons were known for their love of cars but here you see Mrs. Pelton with her bicycle which were just becoming popular for use by women at the time.
– “Edinburgh Street” by Garry Shutlack in Shelagh MacKenzie and Scott Robson, ed. Halifax Street Names: An Illustrated Guide. Halifax, NS: Formac Publishing, 2002.
– Obituary, Arthur F. Pelton, 10 December 1944, Halifax Herald.