Acacia Grove, Blomidon Inn, Charles Ramage Prescott, Frogs, Gardens, Hannah Whidden, In the Garden with Jane Austen, JASNA Nova Scotia, Kim Wilson, Mariah Hammill, Mary Allison Prescott, Nova Scotia Museum, Prescott House
Today’s JASNA Nova Scotia trip to the Blomidon Inn and Prescott House was wonderful. The weather was beautiful and so were the gardens, and it was fun to talk about Kim Wilson’s In the Garden with Jane Austen. Even so, I have to say that the highlight of the day for me was seeing my daughter’s delight at spotting three frogs in a pond at the Blomidon, almost camouflaged but not quite.
JASNA members from Halifax and Dartmouth met up with members from the Annapolis Valley and lingered for a while outside the Blomidon after lunch:
Eventually we exchanged Victorian architecture for Georgian, driving from Wolfville to Starr’s Point to visit Prescott House. The staff gave us a warm welcome and an informative tour, and surprised us by serving iced tea and cookies in the garden.
Prescott House, also known as Acacia Grove, was built as the home of Charles Ramage Prescott, a horticulturalist who was active and innovative in the Annapolis Valley’s apple industry from 1811. He lived in the house with his many children and his second wife, Mariah Hammill. (Just as Richard John Uniacke’s first wife Maria died before the family’s grand house was completed — which I wrote about here — Prescott’s first wife, Hannah Whidden, did not live long enough to move into Acacia Grove.) Here’s one of the acacias at the edge of the garden:
After Charles Prescott’s death in 1859, the house was sold and eventually fell into disrepair. Happily, a great-grand-daughter, Mary Allison Prescott, bought and restored Acacia Grove in 1931. Following her death in 1969, the house became part of the Nova Scotia Museum.
I have fond memories of visiting Prescott House on an elementary school field trip in the early 1980s. It looked quite different then, as you can see from the postcard that I glued into my diary after that visit:
Good company, good weather, good food, a good book, two beautiful houses, two beautiful gardens, and three fabulous frogs. Even though we didn’t devour any ice cream or knock down any pastry cooks, I think we can still echo Jane Austen’s “Beautifull Cassandra” and say, “This is a day well spent.”
Patricia Romans said:
I remember Prescott House as having all the ivy and no paint from a trip in 1959. But painted white in 1997. All three Prescott sisters were alive in 1959 but my great Aunt Louise (Laura Louise Romans), who had lived with them for a long time, was living in a nursing home. The sisters entertained us to tea. I’m trying to find all their names, including the married name of the one who had married and was widowed. The quietest one, whose name might have been Agnes or Alice, though I really don’t remember, showed me her collection of miniatures, although the dominating sister said I wouldn’t be interested, (she had that wrong!), and gave me two miniatures from her collection. I still have them. Maybe I should try to donate them to Prescott House. BTW, Prescott House used to have Clarke family silver displayed on the dining room table. Aunt Lou’s mother was born a Clarke. Did you see any of it?
Sarah Emsley said:
Thanks so much for sharing the story of your visit to Prescott House, Patricia! How wonderful that you had the opportunity to have tea with the sisters — and to see the collection of miniatures. What was your aunt’s connection with the family? I imagine Prescott House and the NS Museum would be interested to know about the miniatures you have. I don’t recall seeing the silver, but then I wasn’t looking for it specifically. Do you still live in Nova Scotia?
Patricia Romans said:
My great-aunt Lou (Laura Louise Romans, was a connection of the Allison family, if not a distant relative. I’m zeroing in on just what the connections were. Definitely,her mother, my g grandmother, was Sarah Jane Clarke Romans and her mother, Jane Abrams, was sister-in-law of Henry Burbidge Allison. I’m not sure about others. The Prescott sisters definitely had at least two Allison ancestors. It was Walter Allison who bequeathed Aunt Lou an annuity in his will. But I don’t know the complete family pedigree and hence the most direct answer to why he left the bequest. At some point, sooner rather than later, I hope, I will resolve these issues.
You’re right, I should get in touch with NS museums/Prescott House about those miniatures. I’d like to be able to read what’s written on their backs first.
I’ve never lived in Nova Scotia, just have ancestral and emotional ties.
Sarah Emsley said:
There’s always so much research involved to sort out the details, isn’t there? Good luck with your efforts to figure out the family tree.
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