Davis MacIntyre & Associates conducted an archaeological resource impact assessment of a development involving and surrounding historic property 5757 Inglis Street in Halifax in 2011. This assessment included a historic building survey to record the building prior to interior renovations.
Background research revealed that the property was located in an area of Halifax which was outside of the original town grid of 1749. When the town began to expand, this area was open land that was granted to the Smith brothers in 1812 and was part of their farm and tannery. The land was sold in 1861 and a single family dwelling house was then built upon the property. By the late 19th century, the property was being used as a home for abandoned infants and destitute mothers. The Halifax Infants House was founded by a group of concerned Haligonian woman in 1875. The home was designed to care for infants and arrange their adoption. Unwed mothers who were still nursing their children were also permitted to stay in the home. An 1878 plan of the house shows that several extentions were built to provide more space for the Infants Home residents. In 1882, the Infants Home relocated and the house at 5757 Inglis Street was occupied by several upper-middle class families over the next 40 years. During this time, the house was extensively renovated until it was eventually configured into four apartments.
Historic Building Survey:
The historic building survey of the house generated a large photographic record of the interior and exterior of the house. The survey noted the massive changes that the house had undergone, including extensions, dropped ceilings, added doorways and closets as well as more cosmetic changes such as paint layers and old wallpaper. Builder's marks, composed of Roman numerals, were found carved into beams of the ceiling. This reflects construction techniques of the period where the beams would have been cut and hewn to fit each other on the ground, disassembled and brought to the second floor where they were fit back together. Also of note was a late 19th or early 20th century lady's boot which was recovered from the walls of the second floor. In the top floor, pencil markings were noted underneath a layer of paint. These markings were identfied as cursive handwriting and a sketch of an arrow with the fletches drawn backwards, both possibly penned by a child.
Monitoring of construction was conducted which resulted in three small concentrations of cultural material being identifed. These concentrations were recorded and the artifacts recovered. One of the features revealed 20th century artifacts while a second feature yielded artifacts dating to the late 19th century and included fragments of a children's tea set. The last feature was a small midden with late 19th or early 20th century artifacts.