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Horwood House Registered Heritage Structure

Horwood House, St. John's, NL
Horwood House, St. John's, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

The Horwood House is an imposing two-and-a-half storey Queen Anne house located on a treed lot at 718 Water Street, St. John’s. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Horwood House has been designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador because it has aesthetic, historic and environmental values.

Horwood House has aesthetic value because it is a good example of an early 20th century Queen Anne House. This 2 ½ storey building is sheathed with differing wall textures such as narrow wooden clapboard and decorative cedar shingles. The irregular roofline is accentuated by the 2 storey bay windows on the west side and the pedimented 2 storey porch on the main façade. The windows are a mix of sizes and shapes including 1/1 single hung, bay, stained glass and round arched windows. The asymmetrical house is set off by the large moulded courses that divide the first floor from the second. This wide moulding is also prominent at the roof eaves and each gable is decorated with patterned shingles.

Horwood House is historically valuable because it is associated with Reuban Horwood and James Vincent Ryan. Horwood, the original owner, built the house in 1901-02. He was a businessman born in Carbonear in 1867 and who started his career operating a sawmill at Clarke’s Beach with his brother, William. Horwood House was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and when St. John’s was undergoing large scale rebuilding after the Great Fire of 1892. At this time there was a tremendous demand for building materials. To meet this demand, Horwood and his brother began a lumberyard and woodworking factory in the city. The brothers quickly became a huge success and their business, the Horwood Lumber Company, was the largest building materials company in St. John’s at that time. Horwood remained the company’s managing director until his death in 1937.

Horwood House is also associated with James Vincent Ryan who purchased the home in 1954. Ryan began his career with the Newfoundland Railway as a telegrapher in 1910. He worked his way up through the company, becoming assistant to the general manager in 1934 and he remained in this position after Confederation, retiring in 1955. After retirement Ryan devoted his energies to the benefit society for railway employees that he had helped found in 1927, the Railway Employees Welfare Association (REWA). He had been first secretary of the REWA and spearheaded many of its benefits, savings and cooperative programs. He was especially supportive of the Own Your Own Home program, initiated in 1933 to build homes for railway workers in the west end of St. John’s.

Horwood House is environmentally valuable because it is located on a large lot, surrounded by mature trees. Situated on a busy road this house, now an office building, is set back from traffic. It is located next to similarly large properties and fits in with the context of the neighbourhood.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - Horwood House - FPT 1489”

Character Defining Elements

All elements that define the Queen Anne design including:
-irregular roofline;
-asymmetrical façade;
-plain window surrounds;
-pedimented 2 storey porch;
-narrow wooden clapboard and patterned shingles;
-2 storey bay window;
-round arch stained glass window; and,
-location, orientation and dimensions.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 718 Water Street
Construction 1901 - 1902
Reuban Horwood
Style Queen Anne
Building Plan Square