Perkins House in Liverpool to be renovated by province

The province says it will repair and reopen Perkins House, a 250-year-old house in Liverpool on Nova Scotia's South Shore.

Nova Scotia's oldest museum, built in 1876, closed last year due to structural problems

Last year it was estimated to cost between $500,000 to $700,000 for a foundation, heating system and other restoration work at Perkins House. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's oldest museum will not remain closed after all. 

The province says it will repair and reopen Perkins House, a 250-year-old house in Liverpool, N.S., that was built for Simeon Perkins in 1766 and has operated as a museum since 1957. 

In recent years the building shifted, some floor boards were removed and plaster ceilings and walls started cracking. 

Last May, the province closed the building indefinitely citing safety reasons.

The province now says it it's working with an engineering firm on a timeline to begin repairs. 

The house is significant, in part, because Perkins kept extensive diaries painting a vivid picture of colonial life in the 1800s, including key records about early African Nova Scotian residents. 

"This history just couldn't be lost, the house couldn't be lost. That was our biggest concern," Linda Rafuse, director of the Queens County Museum and Perkins House told CBC Radio's Information Morning

Staff planning more activities 

Rafuse says she doesn't know when the work will be done or when repair work will start. However, she says staff have been continuing to research how to provide more interpretation at the site.

She says the next step is sharing those ideas with the Nova Scotia Museum. 

"To make it much more active, much more of an experience for our visitors to actually dig in to hands-on activities and make it almost a living history site."

Perkins House was built in 1766 for Simeon Perkins, a merchant, diarist and funder of privateers. (CBC)

Rafuse says several thousand visitors a year visit Perkins House. Even though the house itself was closed last summer, an interpretive staff person helped share its history at the Queens County Museum.

"We still had visitors who had come specifically to see the house because of the diaries, because of the architecture, because of the man," she said. 

Postcards from visitors

People were often disappointed they couldn't tour the inside of the house after travelling to the area to see it, Rafuse said. 

Many filled out Perkins House postcards, which Rafuse says were addressed to Tony Ince, minister of communities, culture and heritage, as well as African Nova Scotian affairs. 

Rafuse says staff presented the postcards in Ince when he visited the site last summer. 

"He was reading the notes and seeing the addresses and he took them with him and said he hoped to respond to all these people, " she said. 

With files from Information Morning

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