Loyalist House National Historic Site of Canada

Saint John, New Brunswick
View of the Loyalist House, showing its rectangular two-storey massing under a low hipped roof. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
Side view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
View of the Loyalist House, showing its rectangular two-storey massing under a low hipped roof. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.View of the Loyalist House, showing its evenly spaced sash windows, 1993. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1993.
Address : 120 Union Street, Saint John, New Brunswick

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1958-05-27
Dates:
  • 1810 to 1817 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • David Merritt (merchant)  (Person)
Other Name(s):
  • Loyalist House  (Designation Name)
  • Merritt House  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 1991-009

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque: in New Brunswick Museum 120 Union Street, Saint John, New Brunswick

This gracious building is a well-preserved example of the homes built by prosperous United Empire Loyalists and their descendants. Constructed before 1820 by the merchant David Merritt, this house was maintained with minimal change by five generations of his family who lived here until 1959. Its harmonious proportions, symmetrical composition and interior layout and detailing show the influence of the classical tradition brought from New England. One of the oldest residences in the city, Loyalist House is an important survivor of the Great Fire which destroyed much of central Saint John in 1877.

Original Plaque:  120 Union Street, Saint John, New Brunswick

A fine example of the Federal style of architecture as developed in New England, this house is representative of the houses built in the 19th century by prosperous United Empire Loyalists and their descendants. It has retained its original form without alteration. Constructed before 1820 by David Merritt, a member of a Loyalist family prominent it New Brunswick and Upper Canada, it housed five generations of Merritts.

Description of Historic Place

A handsome reminder of the earliest days of settlement in Saint John, the Loyalist House National Historic Site of Canada embodies the finest qualities of early 19th-century classicism as it appeared in Atlantic Canada. Its wooden construction in an overall classical design was executed by specialized craftsmen using good quality domestic and imported materials. Its fine interiors are now open to the public. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal boundary at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Loyalist House was designated a national historic site of Canada because: a fine example of the Federal style of architecture as developed in New England, this house is representative of the houses built in the 19th Century by prosperous United Empire Loyalists or their descendants.

Constructed before 1820 by the merchant David Merritt, this house was maintained with minimal changes by five generations of his family who lived there until 1959. Its harmonious proportions, symmetrical composition and interior layout, and detailing show the influence of the neoclassical design tradition brought from New England during this era, referred to as “Federal”. One of the oldest residences in the city, Loyalist House is an important survivor of the Great Fire, which destroyed much of central Saint John in 1877. The same family inhabited the building for most of its existence and has survived remarkably unchanged throughout the years.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1962 and December 2000.

Character-Defining Elements

Aspects of this national historic site of Canada which contribute to its heritage values include: those features which illustrate its “Federal” style or neoclassical design as the preferred architectural style of prosperous United Empire Loyalist settlers and their descendants, such as: its rectangular two-storey massing under a low hipped roof; its four end chimneys; its 5-bay symmetrical façade and centre-hall floor plan; its evenly spaced sash windows; its centre door with semi-elliptical fan- and sidelights; its split staircase accessing the high ground floor entry; its timber construction and cladding in horizontal clapboard and wood shingles; its finely crafted mouldings and finishes of the exterior and interior derived from Adamesque or Federal models and executed in good quality domestic and imported materials.