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McGoldrick Residence (1850 House): This neo Gothic merchant home (formerly known as 1850 House) was built in the 1850s in a prominent lot in the shipbuilding town of Canning, NS.
Oral history tell us it was built by James Blenkhorn. Blenkhorn was a merchant and a blacksmith who made double-bitted axes, first by hand and later in a factory in Canning across the street from his private residence. He was joined by his sons Sydney and George Hennigar Blenkhorn.
In 1968 the old axe factory was demolished. To this day, Mr. McGoldrick, the current owner, still receives inquiries about the axe factory.
In 1849 James Blenkhorn married and set off to travel the world with his new bride. He visited the Dorchester Hotel in London, England and was drawn to the opulent ornamentation within. He later wrote home and expressed his desire to have the interior walls of his home painted in a fashion that resembled the Venetian marble he encountered in the Dorchester Hotel.
The date and artist of the marbleized was in the Canning home are unknown.
Upon Mr. Blenkhorn's death ownership of the home passed to his two sons, Sydney and George. The property remained in the family until 1939.
In the 1940s the house was inhabited by the Parker bothers, Earl 'Pop' and Curtis Parker. The pair, both bachelors, neglected to maintain the property in an appropriate manner. By the 1970s the house was in a state of disrepair, it is said the grass was growing up through the floor boards.
In 1981 Mr. Hugh McGoldrick purchased the property in order to curtail its planed demolition despite having just built a new home down the street. Originally, Mr. McGoldrick had simply enquired about an old painting that adorned the carriage house. He remembers 'Pop' Parker saying "I won't sell you the painting but I'll sell you the house for 13,000$". Despite being offered more money, 'Pop' kept his word and sold the property to Hugh McGoldrick.
Mr. McGoldrick, an antiques restoration artist, has done most of the extensive restoration work of both the home and the furniture himself. Upon moving in, he steamed off a dozen layers of wallpaper to reveal hand painted marbleized walls on the first and second floor. As the Nova Scotia Museum heard word of the paintings within the house, they sent a restoration artist from the Boston Museum of Fine Art to aid in the restoration of the painted surfaces. The restoration work was done over the course of two weeks.
Only one panel remains in its original condition. Mr. McGoldrick also has an old painted partition which was originally part of a horse stall in the carriage house. The painted partition depicts a ship sailing along the river with a lighthouse in the background. It is believed that the painting represents the local scene as it would have appeared in the 19th century. Inscribed on the partition are the initials GHB. This suggests that the painting may be the handiwork of George Hennigar Blenkhorn, son of James Blenkhorn.