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The Lunenburg Academy was designed by H.H. Mott, a well known New Brunswick architect, in 1893. The building was completed in 1895, and opened for class on November 7, 1895. It was constructed as part of Nova Scotia’s shift from one room school houses to public Academies. The Lunenburg Academy was registered as both a Provincial Heritage Property and a National Historic Site in 1983. The building is now the only intact 19th century Academy building surviving in Nova Scotia. It operated continuously as an educational building from 1895 until March of 2012.
The Lunenburg Academy is a three story wooden Victorian building, in the Second Empire style. The imposing scale of the Academy is enhanced by its location on the top of Gallows Hill and the open space that surrounds the building. The long standing colour scheme, of white and black, with a red foundation, window sashes, doors and roof, remains intact. This colour scheme highlights the high level of detail and decorative variety found on the exterior of the building and has become a character defining element of the building. According to the Architect's report, Historic photos imply the original colour was not white and an early photograph tends to confirm this.
The long elevations of the east and west facades both feature a central projection that is flanked by two towers which, in contrast to the large mansard roof and horizontal decorative elements, provide the building with a vertical emphasis. Each of these towers contain a staircase, which together with the additional two stairs leading to the doors on the north and south elevations, are of particular importance to the historic use of the building. The six individual entrances to the building and their adjoining staircases, along with interior dividers in the hallways, allowed the building to be used by both genders, yet maintain their complete separation, until the children entered the classrooms.
The interior of the building is flooded with daylight by means of the large wood windows that dominate the facades. The majority of the windows are three part windows with a fixed transom over a double hung sash, with the notable exception of a separate semi circular and two oval windows found on both the north and south facades. The Serlian and single dormer windows, topped by intricate brackets or pediments, both continue the rhythm of the lower windows and the ornamental quality of the building up to the level of the roof.
Standing on top of "Gallows Hill," the Academy, like a great Victorian Matriarch, surveys her family of distinctive and beautiful homes in the old Town. Visible for miles around, it is an outstanding landmark and one of the most remarkable heritage buildings in the Province.