A prosperous merchant by the name of Edward W. Chipman and his wife, Mahala Jane Northup, were seeking the perfect location for their new home. They found such a place, and in 1865 they began construction of one of the most expensive and extravagant homes in the city. This house was completed in 1866, and by 1867 the Chipmans had taken up residence. Being a fashionable lady, well known in Halifax society, Mahala began entertaining immediately. She would host countless dances and social events, attended not only by local personages, but also by the British officers stationed in the garrison. The guests were well entertained, and were enchanted with the Chipmans' new home. In one account the house was described as "...in a style, both regards to size and decoration, more like a palace than a private residence."
The Chipmans' stay was short-lived, however. Mr. Chipman's dealings began to take a turn for the worse and his dry goods business failed. In 1870, the house was turned over to the Sheriff of Halifax. The bailiffs seized much of their furnishings and the house was sold at auction, where the property was bought by a real estate speculator named Patrick Costin.
Costin soon found buyers willing to pay the asking price of $14,200.00. He sold the home to two spinsters, the sisters Sarah and Jane Romans. The Romans had been operating their father's business, The Waverley Hotel, and in October of 1876 they moved the hotel into its new location. A new wing was added to the rear of the home to accommodate more guests. The Waverley soon became one of Halifax's finest residential hotels. The Roman sisters retired in 1905. The hotel passed into the hands of Harry Preedy and in 1913, Preedy sold it to Joseph Allison Clark. Clark operated a first-class establishment until 1944, when the property was purchased by the Blue Triangle Women's League. In 1960, the Sterling Hotel Company bought the Waverley Inn and began extensive restorations.
During his North American tour, famed Irish poet Oscar Wilde stopped over in Halifax and stayed at the Waverley Inn. Compared to the other guests, Wilde must have been outrageous - not only in dress, but in personality. He was the man who, when asked at customs if he had anything to declare, replied, "Nothing but my genius!"
Among the Waverley's regular patrons were the finest of Halfiax society: John Doull, president of the Bank of Nova Scotia (1889 - 1899) and one of the merchant princes of Nova Scotia; Thomas Fyshe, manager of the Bank of Nova Scotia, and son-in-law to Anna Leonowens (benefactor of the Leoneowens Gallery, she served as the nanny and tutor to the King of Siam"s children and became the basis for The King and I). Later guests include P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus and financier George Vanderbilt. William A. Henry, son of Nova Scotia"s Father of Confederation, was a regular up until he married. The Premier of Nova Scotia, The Honourable George H. Murray, stayed for six years until the Romans sisters retired.