Saturday, July 30, 2011

HRM Point of Interest #24: Waverly Inn

The Waverly Inn, on Barrington Street, started out in life as a private residence. Edward W. Chipman, a wealthy dry-goods merchant, and his wife Mahala Jane Northup built one of the most expensive and extravagant homes in Halifax in 1866 (this one).

Mahala really really loved her new home, and apparently she loved showing it off even more. Numerous accounts describe the lavish parties and dances she would host in her home that was described as "... in a style, both regards to size and decoration, more like a palace than a private residence."

By 1870 the party was over though, literally, for Mahala as well as her hoighty-toighty guests. Eddie's dry-goods business had all dried up and the house and all the furniture was seized by the city. The house was then sold to a couple of sisters, Sarah and Jane Romans, who turned the house into one of Halifax's finest residential hotels.

During its heyday, The Waverly Hotel was noted for having exceptional hospitality, and played hosts to regular guests such as Oscar Wilde, John Doull (president of the Bank of Nova Scotia, 1889-1899), P.T. Barnum (yup, that P.T. Barnum), George Vanderbilt (seriously, just search some of these names up for yourself), and William Henry (the son of the Father of Confederation with the same name). In fact, the hospitality was so remarkable at The Waverly, that the Premier of Nova Scotia, The Honourable George H. Murray, stayed in the hotel for six years while in office.

Every time I cycle or walk past this bright yellow mansion on south Barrington, on the way to the train station, I'm reminded of all the history of this city. I had wanted to take a picture earlier and make a post about it, but it's just not the same without that blue sky in the background and I could not seem to get all the way down to south Halifax early enough to capture an image with a clear sky and the sun behind me. Better late than never though, I suppose. This hotel is over 140 years old, after all, so one would think that a few more days won't hurt it too much.


  1. I've always wanted to stay there :) I hear it's haunted, do you know anything about that?


  2. Haunted, eh? I hadn't heard anything about that until now. It does not surprise me though since many places in Halifax claim to be haunted (there's even a haunted places walking tour). I stayed in a haunted jail/hostel in Ottawa last summer. That was fun. You've given me a great idea to stay the night here once to supplement my post, and maybe elaborate on this haunting.