On our way back to Halifax after an overnight in Cumberland County (thanks A & J), I mused: Sometime we need to sample Truro. Why not now, said Sheila while searching on her phone for where to eat in Truro. So we dropped in for the briefest ramble.
The major attraction for me was to see the 1880s Normal College building. It has been restored as the new home for the town library. For the last 50 years a 1967 Centennial Project library had blocked this view but demolition of the newer building is almost complete. This really feels like an important moment for the old downtown. A large public square will be built in front of the library and the farmers’ market is already operating to one side.
Folks in Halifax might think the Normal College building looks familiar. That’s because it was designed by Henry Busch, architect of the very similar Academy Building on Brunswick Street.
Our visit really consisted of walking Prince Street and admiring, with fresh eyes, the parade of architecture. I paused to snap pictures of a few buildings. Here is the old Post Office and Federal Building from 1884. Those Ottawa architects knew what they were doing.
Along Prince Street is one great church building after another. The star, from our point of view, is the United Church (originally built by the Presbyterians). The doors were open so we stepped inside and learned it had a new sound system, was the largest performance space in town, and was getting new windows. You can see that the old, fragile windows have been reinforced with cross bars to prevent them from sudden collapse.
And because not everyone agreed with Church Union in 1925, here is the beautiful stone church of those who wanted to remain Presbyterian.
An Art Deco-style building has been abandoned by its bank. Perfectly scaled and detailed for the high street of the shire town.
A striking commercial building that caught our eye was probably late 19th century and had exceptional brickwork. See the header for a detail photo.
Then we bought some handmade soap, ate a good lunch while sitting on a terrace, stopped in a bookstore/tea room, and tried on some glasses (what do you think?).
For many years it felt like Truro was not living up to its potential. Maybe Truro and I have both changed enough for us to try a new relationship. I don’t know, what do you think?
Besides the new library, Truro has been in my consciousness because of a couple of energetic entrepreneurs who I’m aware of on Twitter and Instagram. Kelsey Wier makes the stylish Foxhound Collection of fragrance products in her Truro studio. Ben Brush is a designer and merchant. In my mind they represent a new confidence in the town. Ben’s Instagram includes his illustrations of both the new library and the United Church. Good choices!
- We may not get to downtown Truro often, but we regularly stop at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill. It is home to a superb rock garden. In June we visited with a group from the Rhododendron and Horticultural Society. A destination garden for sure.
- A few years ago we spent a pleasant interlude in the large cemetery that is surrounded by commercial wasteland on the way into Truro. I was particularly attracted by the late 19th century cast iron fences, some marked as made by the Truro Foundry .
There are also stones that date back to the late 18th century. I tend to forget that Truro has such early roots. My ancestors were there so it should be more top of mind.
- The best older photos of Truro in my collection are of a grand, stepped gable factory building occupied by Allied Van Lines in 1976. It had originally housed a hat factory. Gone for some time.