News Release Archive

Lawrence House Museum, in Maitland, Hants County, will be
celebrating the old and the new on Museums' Day, July 13, with a
special collection of old photographs and a new look.

In 1865, when William Dawson Lawrence built his house on a hill
overlooking the rust-colored Cobequid Bay he planted 14 elm
trees. For 135 years, the stately trees surrounded three sides of
the house but last summer the elms, riddled with Dutch Elm
disease, had to be removed, leaving the house exposed to the
buffeting winds off the bay.

In late June of this year, the grounds were returned to their
original appearance. After consulting old photographs of the
house and an archeological investigation for post holes, the
Museum Services Division of the Nova Scotia Museum planted 14 new
green ash trees and reinstated the old picket fence on the
property. The granite fence posts, left over from the original
fence were used for the new fence gate posts.

A special collection of old photographs will be on display for
the first time. The Lawrence House of the past, with this year's
new old look, can be compared with photos of this once prosperous
shipbuilding town.

The site of the old Lawrence shipyard can be inspected through
the telescope on the second floor. There are few traces of the
once bustling shipyard where the famous William D. Lawrence was
built, but at one time this was a place of intense scrutiny,
speculation, curiosity and comment. For a year and a half, in
1873 and 1874, 75 men worked 10-hour days to build Canada's
largest fully rigged wooden ship, the William D. Lawrence.

This huge ship, dubbed at the time, Lawrence's "Monster Ship"
carried 8,000 yards of sail. Thirty-five crew members and William
Lawrence sailed her around the world on a journey that lasted two
and a half years to their destination, the Chincha Islands off
the coast of Peru.

There, the William D. Lawrence and her crew waited over a year
for a load of precious cargo that would make them a fortune
--- bird droppings, or guano. Guano, an excellent fertilizer was
in high demand and Lawrence believed it would bring profit worth
a year of boredom and isolation. He was right.

Lawrence carried home souvenirs from his adventures, namely a
glass bottle of guano, which can still be seen today. He also
brought home English mechanical chandeliers that operate on a
counter-weight system for easy lighting; and hand-carved
alabaster garden ornaments from Italy, which took a place of
honor in the parlour.

Lawrence House Museum is three floors of fascinating furniture
and decorations, including a real bustle which fashionable ladies
wore in the late 1800's and the original manuscript of Lawrence's
first political speech. There is a bed very like a modern
hospital bed which Lawrence built for his sickly daughter, an
inventive wicker nursing chair, ornately disguised water heaters
and a spiral staircase painted to look like marble, leading to
the interesting spaces of the top floor.


Contact: Joan Waldron     902-424-7398

         Emma McKennirey  902-424-6435

trp                      July 03, 1996 - 1:35 p.m.