Old Town of Lunenburg

Old Town of Lunenburg (World Heritage)

Northern America

The small town on the south coast of Nova Scotia was founded by mostly German emigrants in 1753. The old town with its colorful wooden houses is still reminiscent of times when the city was known as a fishing and shipbuilding center.

Old town of Lunenburg: facts

Official title: Old town of Lunenburg
Cultural monument: Colonial, fishing and shipbuilding town located on a peninsula between Mahone Bay and the mouth of the La Have River, former Protestant settlement with originally 1453 mainly German, Swiss and French emigrants; City plan with 7 streets in north-south direction and 9 in east-west direction with a width of 14.6 and 12.2 m respectively; City with buildings mainly made of wood from the 18th and 19th centuries, including Koch Solomon House, McLachlan House, Morash House, Lennox Tavern, Knaut-Rhuland House, shop and office of Adams & Knickle Ltd. and The Rectory and Bank of Montreal (1907)
Continent: America
Country: Canada, Nova Scotia
Location: Lunenburg, southwest of Halifax
Appointment: 1995
Meaning: one of the best preserved examples of British colonial architecture in North America

Old town of Lunenburg: history

1753 Foundation of the model city
1754 Construction of the original St. John’s Anglican Church
1774-98 Construction of the Romkey House
1828 Construction of the original St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
1883-85 Construction of the Methodist Church, now the United Church
1895 Opening of the Lunenburg Academy
1897 Construction of today’s Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
1919 Construction of the Silver House
1921 Construction of the famous »Bluenose« fishing sailboat at the Lunenburg shipyard
1991 Designation a National Historic Site

Moving together in the wild

The Duke of Cornwall was extremely dissatisfied with the Cockneys sent from England, with whom he was supposed to build a British city, today’s Halifax, in the wilderness of Nova Scotia on Cap Breton in 1749 – as a counterpoint to the French trading town Louisbourg. Because with these drunk and flogging journeymen it was difficult to create a stable community and to prevail against the hard-working French in order to win the country permanently for the English crown.

Therefore, he was only satisfied when the English king, who came from the German house of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, sent a group of his Protestant fellow believers to the New World to found another new city on the rocky coast of Nova Scotia.

In distant England, the Board of Trade and Plantation had drawn up a model plan for settlements in the New World: against real or supposed enemies, Indians and French alike, one should move closer together. In the newly founded city, for example, a grid of streets and small garden plots were laid out. An elongated square in the middle of the settlement – the “parade” – was a meeting place and was used for military exercises. Quays and docks for trade and traffic as well as agricultural parcels for every resident placed in a ring around the town perfected the new town.

The English could be completely satisfied with their “foreign Protestants” who had such strange names as Zouberbuhler, Zwicker or Knaut. These “landlubbers” from Central Europe were loyal, ambitious citizens who did not dwell long on agriculture, since the forest and the sea promised unimaginable income. The sailing ships they built were not only sleek but also fast, and the amount of freshly caught cod that landed was pure “gold from the sea” that gave every citizen a living.

Thanks to these rich treasures of the sea and the forest, Lunenburg grew into a pretty town at the time of the “Age of Sail” (1850-1900). Since extravagance and ostentation were unknown to the Protestant citizens, they remained loyal to wood as a building material, and no city father, however ambitious, has believed to have to demolish the wooden houses of previous generations.

According to thereligionfaqs, the construction principle of the houses was extremely simple: a scaffolding made of sturdy trunks held the simple houses together; Wooden shingles or planks served as facing. Anyone who had achieved prosperity as a merchant or shipbuilder was already living in two-story houses at the end of the 18th century. The facades in the »Georgian Style« are strictly structured – based on the Italian Renaissance. They corresponded perfectly with the clear, functional ideas of Messrs. Knaut, Rhuland and Koch: five windows on the upper floor and two on each side of the representative entrance door light up the entrance hall and the elegantly understatement furnished rooms. The only external decorations are either columns to the left and right of the portal, a semicircular window made of colored glass above or a simple staircase. Residential houses from the period after 1850 were not stingy with bay windows; Five-sided porches for the bedroom lie in the middle of the steep pointed or mansard roofs above the house portal, which are called “Lunenburg bumps”. “Carpenter Gothic” can be found in perfection in the magnificent neo-Gothic St. John’s Anglican Church. The town hall and the imposing Lunenburg Academy were built at the end of the 19th century in the representative turn-of-the-century style that was common in both Europe and America.

Since Lunenburg reflects the sober constancy of its residents, the most famous resident of the city seems almost too cosmopolitan and elegant in this context: the »Bluenose«, a sailing boat that has repeatedly won the »Fishermen’s Trophy« for two decades and whose replica is permanently im Port of the city has moored.

Old Town of Lunenburg