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Bishop House in Great Village designated as municipal heritage property

The Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village will be providing temporary residence for more than 20 writers from Nova Scotia and beyond this summer. The house was recently granted municipal heritage status by the County of Colchester.
The Elizabeth Bishop House in Great Village will be providing temporary residence for more than 20 writers from Nova Scotia and beyond this summer. The house was recently granted municipal heritage status by the County of Colchester. - File image

GREAT VILLAGE, N.S. – A decision to grant municipal heritage status to the Elizabeth Bishop House is like a badge of honour to the society that owns the world-famous residence, a spokeswoman says.

“I am pleased that we are going to get the designation and it is just kind of like a feather in the cap,” said Laurie Gunn, a director with the St. James Church of Great Village Preservation Society, which owns the house.

Colchester County Council recently approved an application from the society for designation as a Municipal Heritage Property.

Bishop was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet and author who spent her early years living in the home with her maternal grandparents.

“The Elizabeth Bishop House is noted worldwide as a wonderful place to come and visit and I thought that Colchester County should be aware that this is a really unique historical property,” Gunn said.

The house, which had previously received provincial heritage status, was made world famous through Bishop’s writings. It is also highly featured in a piece of prose she authored called The Village.

Each summer the society invites artists and writers to take up temporary residence in the house. More than 20 writers are booked for week-long stays this year.

In addition to Nova Scotia authors, so far this year a writer from Australia has stayed and another from Ireland will be visiting soon.

While the house and Great Village have both been made world famous through Bishop’s poems and prose, Gunn said it is less known by many local residents. She is hoping the municipal heritage designation will change that.

“I’m actually very pleased because a lot of people in Colchester County don’t know about the Elizabeth Bishop House,” she said.

“She wrote about Great Village in great detail and it influenced her writing. So that’s why people in the States and worldwide know so much about Great Village whereas, we think ‘oh yeah, Great Village is just Great Village.’”

The Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia will be holding its annual meeting at the house on June 23 and Gunn said the municipal heritage plaque will be officially mounted on that day.

A summer student has also been hired to provide tours on Saturdays.

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