Built in 1894 –1895, the Lunenburg Academy is a rare surviving example of Nova Scotia's 19th Century Academy system of secondary education and represents the short and final "golden age" of Academy construction in the Province. Its combination of scale, design and function and the intricacy of detail in its wooden construction, make it unique among comparable educational buildings in Canada.
The Education Review of February 1896 described the Lunenburg Academy as follows:
"The new school building is of wood, two storeys high, with a mansard roof and occupies one of the finest and most commanding sites in the Province, being visible for many miles around. The ground floor contains six large classrooms with separate cloakrooms for boys and girls. The second floor contains six classrooms, cloakrooms, laboratory and library. There is a large Assembly Hall capable of seating over four hundred.
The ceilings throughout are of white wood and beautifully panelled. The floors and wainscotting are of birch, while the rest of the interior is furnished in ash and birch, giving to the whole a substantial and neat appearance.
There are six entrances affording a complete separation of boys and girls except in the classroom. Four towers adorn the building, in one of which a large bell, weighing over six hundred pounds, has been placed. The principal's department is on the second floor and is connected with each classroom by electric bells. It is seated with single desks. The blackboards are of slate. On one side of the room opens the laboratory, on the other, the library.
Every flat is fitted with a large gong, attached to the ceiling which is controlled from the Principal's department. Speaking tubes connect each floor with the basement.
The Smead-Dowd heating, ventilating and sanitary system has been adopted and gives excellent satisfaction. The basement contains six furnaces, which are supplied with fresh air from outside, thus giving each room a constant supply of pure warm air.
The laboratory is well supplied with chemical and physical apparatus. A geological collection of about one hundred Canadian specimens has recently been added.
Altogether the new Academy is one of the finest school buildings in the Maritime Provinces. It is thoroughly modern in style and finish and is admirable adapted for education work."
This remarkable building, an architectural masterpiece, is a landmark in the Town of Lunenburg. The unusual architectural style enhanced by an abundance of decorative Victorian designs, sometimes referred to by the term "Gingerbread", creates a unique structure greatly admired by visitors to the Town of Lunenburg.
The Academy, owned by the Town, housed grades one through twelve until 1965 when a new high school was built. Today, it continues as an elementary school (P - 5) with an enrollment of 165 students.
Through the efforts of the Lunenburg Academy Foundation, the Lunenburg Academy, on March 20, 1984, received the official designation of a Provincial Heritage Property. Also, on March 6, 1984, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada approved the Academy as a site of both national and architectural significance.