Morris House’s rebirth

Watercolour by R.D. Wilkie showing the Morris office on corner of Morris and Hollis streets, with the larger Morris family home behind it. Credit: N.S. Archives

Since its move from the downtown, Halifax’s oldest wooden house has found new purpose in the North End

Long a fixture downtown, Morris House dates back to 1764. One of the earliest owners was provincial surveyor general Charles Morris, who bought it for 65£, and likely never imagined its story would continue for another 2.5 centuries (and counting).

Since then, the house has had many owners, with families coming and going as the surrounding community’s fortunes ebbed and flowed. History records little about it over the years, although —as we almost every historic downtown home — there are rumours it was once a brothel.

In the last couple decades, it seemed destined for the wrecking ball, as its once-working-class neighbourhood became a tony area for new development, attracting builders of condos and luxury apartments.

Morris House, shortly after the move to the North End. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

With the historic home’s future uncertain, various citizens joined forced to find a way to save it. The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia bought the now-derelict building for $1, and the Ecology Action Centre and various other groups worked with them to find a new North End location for it, with the goal of turning it into a home for at-risk youth.

The same year, in a painstaking process that attracted media attention countrywide, workers carefully moved the entire structure to the corner of Creighton and Charles streets. The process took 32 hours, and required removing utility poles and countless other painstaking challenges.

Since then, workers have been making over the whole structure, and today Phoenix Youth Programs runs the site, as it houses a young family, the latest to build their futures in the home.

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