MacKeen-Smith House, Mabou

by Jim St. Claire

MacKeen-Smith House, MabouLocated in the middle of Clayton Farm on a peninsula jutting out into Mabou Harbour, the home of the Hon. William MacKeen and his descendants was built about 1835. MacKeen who was the first Legislative Counselor for Inverness County and the first Custos Rutulorum was a major influence on the ecomomic, agricultural and cultural life of the County. His house identifies his position in society and his wish to build well for the future.

Built on a slight rise, the house surveys an extensive area of agricultural land in every direction. Its Georgin design provides much window area. The front of the house is strongly influenced by Palladian design with windows in three parts on either side of the front door and a three fold window in the small dormer window over the door. The door itself shows an influence of Greek Revival architecture with its impressive columns on either side.

Tradition states that this house was the first house built in the area specifically for heating by stoves instead of by fireplaces. The two chimney system accommodated this necessity. The interior walls provide alcoves for the placement of the stoves. Its beautiful staircase with its carefully crafted newel post and its spacious rooms both upstairs and down are two other of the features of this outstanding building.

The house is now owned by MacKeen's great-great-grandson, Isaac Smith. It is much admired by visitors who enjoy the hospitality of the Clayton Farm Bed and Breakfast Program. William MacKeen built well for his work is still standing and admired.