Dexter's Tavern

5 Riverside Drive, Liverpool

The following is taken, with permission, from South Shore; Seasoned Timbers, Vol. 2, Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, 1974:

When the proprietors of the Township of Liverpool held their first meeting on July 1, 1760, there are said to have been five houses standing at the point, then known as Fish Point and later as Fort Point. One of them was owned by Daniel Eldridge.

Although the 70 families from Cape Cod and Nantucket came well equipped with house frames and materials for three saw mills, there must have been need for food and shelter while land was being cleared. Two innholders are known to have filled that need. Daniel Eldridge, fisherman cum trader was one, and his neighbour, Cornelius Knowles, the other. It was a good site for a tavern. The ferry from Herring Cove landed at its riverside door. It was near the bar which obstructed the harbour mouth and forced ships to wait for the tide, and the wharves of the Liverpool merchants stretched upriver from the spot.

However Eldridge's credit was over-extended and his land at the Point was sold for debt at an auction in 1767. In the 1770's the blacksmith, Enoch Dexter, secured much of the property and in 1772 allowed Simeon Perkins, J.P., to hold auctions in his house. Although much public business was conducted here, there were entertainments too. When Capt. William Dean, John Cobb and Jesse Atwood invited about 20 gentlemen to Dexter's in 1775, Perkins recorded an agreeable time.

The American Revolution brought a garrison to the Fort and Royal Navy ships, seeking marauding privateers, crossed the bar. The tavern was equipped to handle the business, for when Dexter died in 1777 he left six feather beds and six straw ones, fourteen pewter plates, five pewter dishes, eight pewter basins, though only one tankard. So his tavern appears to have been a respectable small hotel rather than a dram shop.

Mrs. Dexter carried on, at first with some frivolity, since Perkins notes going to two dances there the next winter. However in 1782 Henry Alline preached at the tavern one Sunday and the scandalous Congregational divine, Mr. Cheever, was given equal time some months later.

After Mary Dexter's death it was used as a dwelling and continues as such to this day. It has three floors with only two rooms on each floor. The storm porch is a later addition. The huge stones of the foundation which have been squared by a mason are not of local origin, and may well have come from the ruins of the Fortress of Louisbourg.

Back to Built Heritage