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Hidden treasures revealed behind old walls at Carriage House building

Truro developer Jon Keddy recently received a Heritage Award from the town for the extensive renovations he did to an apartment building at 64 Pleasant St., using many reclaimed materials.
Truro developer Jon Keddy recently received a Heritage Award from the town for the extensive renovations he did to an apartment building at 64 Pleasant St., using many reclaimed materials.

TRURO, N.S. – Renovation projects always bring surprises, though rarely of the type Jon Keddy encountered at the Carriage House.

“There were a lot of discoveries in the building,” said Keddy, who recently received the Town of Truro Heritage Award for his efforts in refurbishing the large, old apartment building at 64 Pleasant St.

Dating to about 1885, the house was originally built as a single-family home. Over the years, the structure was converted into 10 apartments, with another two units in a smaller detached building at the rear of the property.

The property received its current name after someone asked what he was going to do with the “carriage house,” in reference to the smaller building.

“There were a lot of discoveries in the building,” said Keddy, who recently received the Town of Truro Heritage Award for his efforts in refurbishing the large, old apartment building at 64 Pleasant St.

Dating to about 1885, the house was originally built as a single-family home. Over the years, the structure was converted into 10 apartments, with another two units in a smaller detached building at the rear of the property.

The property received its current name after someone asked what he was going to do with the “carriage house,” in reference to the smaller building.

LEFT: A rail slider dating to the late 1800s was purchased at Onslow Historic Lumber and attached to an old door for use as a sliding closet door. RIGHT: A variety of old lights found in a scrap yard were used during the renovation to Keddy’s apartment building at 64 Pleasant Street, while the old brick fireplace was a hidden treasure discovered behind a wall.
Jon Keddy found the newel (bottom post) of this rear stairway in the Carriage House on Kijiji while the railing came from a decommissioned church.

After driving past the house countless times in 15 years, Keddy often wondered why it couldn’t be transformed into something better.

“There was an instant business model in my mind, knowing that there were 12 units … and how I could make the most amazing spaces out of the existing spaces.”

The property is one of a number of apartment units Keddy has purchased and refurbished in the Truro area, although he said the workmanship from past renovations left a lot to be desired.

“Back then you didn’t have to meet building code,” he said. “There was some creativity back in the day. I doubt they used an architect or anything like that.”

Keddy did use architectural assistance in his renovations. But he also used creativity of a different sort, utilizing old barn boards and beams, stair railings from a decommissioned church, light fixtures and other items reclaimed from the scrapyard and refurbished for modern use.

What amazed him as the project proceeded, however, revealed themselves in the form of artistic plaster ceiling moldings and brick fireplaces hidden behind walls from previous renovations.

A number of times he received calls from work crews during construction.

“So I’d get there and I’d peek my head up and I’d see these huge, giant plaster medallions still intact above the drop-down ceiling and these huge plaster crown mouldings, like 18 inches high.”

Reclaimed doors from the former Normal College were cut down and redesigned as the face panels for kitchen islands; original windows were reframed with mirrors and placed in hallways to reflect natural light; counter tops were created from local, diseased hemlock trees and so on.

“It just made the project more interesting. Did it cost me less? Probably not.”

Keddy takes pride in refurbishing old houses and helping to improve the look of the neighbourhood through the quality, design and colour of his projects.

And his reaction to receiving the Heritage Award?

“It’s wonderful … unmeasurable.”

Early history

– The Carriage House property dates to between 1873 and 1875 when it was the original site of the McRoberts Furniture Factory.

– The present house was built about 1885 by Dimmock B. Cummings, who operated the Wm. Cumming & Sons Wholesale & Retail Dry Goods on Commercial Street.

– In 1891 the house was sold to Seymour E. Gourlay, a barrister and MP for Colchester.

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