Peter Smyth House, Port Hood

by Jim St. Clair

The Peter Smyth HousePlaced on a hill overlooking Port Hood Harbour, the Peter Smyth stone house is one of the architectural treasures of Inverness County. It is the only stone house standing in the County which is built of dressed quarry stone. The stone is said to have come from Fortress Louisbourg by barge - but much of that stone came originally from Port Hood Island, so it is possible the large stone blocks came only from Port Hood Island. Some of the stones, however, seem to have blackened portions as though they had been in a fire.

Although the building appears to be one and a half storeys as it is viewed from the road, it is actually two and a half storeys when viewed from the rear. The bottom floor, mostly below ground level on the front, contains the kitchen, pantry and probably sleeping area for the cook and maid, thus making it the only surviving house in Inverness County with basement quarters for hired staff. The main floor of the house contains a double reception room on one side and a parlour on the other with very elaborate finish around the windows and the doors. Fire places set in the exterior walls (which contain the chimneys) were apparently for "style" as well as for the pleasure of a coal or wood fire. But the house appears to have been built to be heated by stoves.

The Peter Smyth HouseWhile the exact date of building has not been determined, it would appear from available records and from the style of the building that it was built in the middle 1850's. The "scotch" dormer on the front of the house may not be original. The tiles on the roof are slate. Their origin has not been determined. The building has the appearance of an Irish or Scottish Townhouse of the Mid 19th Century thus making it a suitable home for the wealthy Irish merchant Peter Smyth.