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Benjamin Barbour House Registered Heritage Structure

Benjamin Barbour House, Newtown, NL
Benjamin Barbour House, Newtown, NL
Benjamin Barbour House, Newtown, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

The Benjamin Barbour House is a two-and-a-half storey double house prominently located in the Barbour Living Heritage Village in Newtown, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Benjamin Barbour House was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1986 due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural value.

The Benjamin Barbour House has historic value because, as far as is known, this is the only house of this type and period to survive in the area. The Benjamin Barbour House is a good representative of the type and form of house built by a prosperous sea captain around the advent of the sealing steamers on this portion of the Newfoundland coast.

Constructed in 1875 the house was built for Captain Benjamin Barbour and occupied by his descendants until the present. The house was located in Newtown because of the area’s proximity to the fishing grounds and seal herds. The Barbour family has long been associated as a highly successful sealing family. Though Benjamin Barbour was not himself involved in sealing, most of his sons were. They also established and maintained a business in Newtown, contributing to the greater community as a whole.

The Benjamin Barbour House has aesthetic value because it is typical of the larger merchant houses built in many of the major Newfoundland communities after the middle of the 19th century. The gabled roof, symmetrical façade, end chimneys and general proportions make it a mate to most of the principal houses in Brigus – another outport which produced great sealing captains.

Set out to serve as a duplex, it was never used as such. Constructed primarily by the large Barbour family it is unique because it has no division between the two sides of the structure. The double-door bay portico provides a grand entrance to the residence. Inside two staircases rise out of both sides of a centre hall, but no partition has been built to separate them.

The house stands as a testament to the skill and integrity of its builders and designers because the Benjamin Barbour House has survived virtually unscathed. Features such as the double door bay portico and the 6/6 double hung windows are typical of rural, vernacular architecture. The size of the structure, coupled with the large number of windows, and the decorative details show the importance of the residents within the home and their high status within the community.

The Benjamin Barbour House has cultural value because it is representative of the house of the outport merchant or captain in the latter half of the 19th century. Having been constructed in 1875, at the time when sealing companies began to focus some of their springtime operations on this section of Bonavista Bay, it can be seen as a material symbol of the change in their economies, as well as that of the sealing industry itself.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Newtown - Benjamin Barbour House – FPT 1461”

Character Defining Elements

All those features representative of merchant class vernacular architecture, including:
-Dimensions, location and orientation of house;
-Narrow, wooden clapboard;
-Steeply pitched gable roof;
-Gable end bargeboard;
-Double-door bay portico;
-6/6 double hung windows;
-5 bay façade;
-dual interior staircase.

Location and History

Community Newtown
Municipality Town of New-Wes-Valley
Civic Address Heritage Place
Construction (circa) 1873 - 1875
Architect
Mr. O'Grady
Builder
Barbour family, mason Mr. Bridle
Style Georgian
Building Plan T - Shape
Website Link http://www.barbour-site.com/benjamin-barbour-home/