The Science Building

The Science Building in downtown Truro – now the Colchester Historeum – originally was a school for farming students, and later used by the Provincial Normal College for their Rural Science program for teachers.

In 1888, the province purchased a farm in Bible Hill (present-day Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus) for the practical education of farming students. In 1892, the new School of Agriculture established its campus on the Provincial Farm. Six years later, a devastating fire destroyed the school building, leaving both the farm and school without facilities. In 1900, the Science Building was erected at 29 Young Street in Truro next to the Provincial Normal School – the province's teacher training school and an affiliate of the School of Agriculture. The Science Building opened in the Fall of 1901 and was used by both the School of Agriculture and the Provincial Normal School. The location of the new building was beneficial for Normal School students who could easily pop next door for their science classes. The farming students, however, now had to travel between Bible Hill and downtown Truro.

The Science Building consisted of three storeys, a basement, and an attached greenhouse. The basement was designated the Macdonald Manual Training School and the main floor of the building included a large laboratory for biological studies. On the second floor was a chemistry laboratory with slate tile flooring. The third floor was a science museum and exhibit space. A greenhouse was attached to the rear of the building with additional gardens located nearby.

In 1905, the School of Agriculture merged with the School of Horticulture in Wolfville to form the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC). A new building was constructed on the Provincial Farm in Bible Hill where most of the college's classes were then held. The building initially did not contain chemistry labs, so the NSAC continued to use the Science Building in Truro for those classes.

In 1908, the Normal School established a Summer School in which teachers could earn a Rural Science diploma over the course of three summers. During the summer of 1909, over 100 teachers were enrolled in the Rural Science program. That same year, Domestic Science classes for women were added to the program's course offerings.

The Rural Science program at the Provincial Normal College (renamed in 1909) gained further momentum in 1913 when the Federal Government began to distribute funds to strengthen agricultural education nationwide. Food production was a going concern during World War I, and rural schools became important links to community farms. Following the war, with food production a lesser concern, the Federal Government reduced funds for agricultural programs. Without the government’s financial support, the Rural Science program declined. In 1915, the NSAC moved all its operations to the provincial farm. The Normal College continued to use the Science Building until they moved to a new campus on Arthur Street in 1961.

The Science Building sat vacant from 1962 to 1976, when it was taken over by the Colchester Historical Society. In 1983, the building was renovated, the cupola restored, a new roof added, and an extension built where the greenhouse once stood. In 2012, the building was renamed the Colchester Historeum, and in 2015, the first-floor exhibit space underwent a major revamp. Today, the building is a designated Heritage Property and continues to function as a museum with archives on the second floor, which features slate tile flooring from the former chemistry lab. For nearly 120 years, the building has served the purpose of education.



29 Young St., Truro