So we have moved from our delightful home in Fergusons Cove and now live on the Halifax Peninsula. This means I get to walk through a tidy, residential neighbourhood on my way to pick up a liter of milk and some frozen puff pastry. Most of the homes on my route appear to have been built in the 1950s and 60s, and some have a little feature you’ve probably noticed but have never named.
I’m talking about jetties, the slight overhang of the second floor. Here are a couple of neighbouring homes with jettied fronts. Recognize that look?
These jettied houses are a colonial revival style that loosely reference New England buildings that date from the 17th century, like the Dodge House in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Get the idea?
Many jettied houses have window shutters which of course aren’t functional but provide spots of colour and an old-timey feel.
If you visit any of the post-war housing developments around the city, or the east coast of the continent for that matter, there is a good chance that jetties will be on display. In Halifax the area south of Oakland Road provides particularly rich viewing. It was fun to notice that there are multiple examples of the same jettied design (the same developer / builder?). The distinctive little window to the left of the front door (in the hall closet?) clued me to the collection.
So add “jetties” and “jettied front” to the words you excitedly exclaim while exploring the urban landscape. But don’t exclaim too loudly because they tend to be found in quiet neighbourhoods.
- Twenty years ago Sheila and I wrote a book about heritage house styles in Nova Scotia. At one book signing event a woman asked if we could name the style of her house. She was having difficulty trying to describe its features and then in frustration she said “it looks like a doll house.” We knew immediately it was a colonial revival style and quite possibly had a jettied front.
- No ancient houses with jetties survive in Nova Scotia (were there ever any?). The closest thing we have is the mid-18th century blockhouse, Fort Edward, in Windsor. The second floor has broad overhangs on all sides. Unlike the delightful jettied houses of the 1960s, blockhouses often had openings in the floor of the wide overhang so defenders could shoot down at, or drop nasty things on, attackers who were trying to break into the ground floor. These openings are called machicolations, but that’s too difficult to remember.