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Ridley Office Registered Heritage Structure

Ridley Office, Harbour Grace, NL
Ridley Office, Harbour Grace, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

Ridley Office is a two storey stone building with a gable slate roof. Built in 1838, it is located in Harbour Grace, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Ridley Office was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1990 because of its aesthetic and historic value.

Ridley Office has aesthetic value as it is a rare example of early nineteenth century stone craftsmanship in Newfoundland and Labrador. Constructed in 1838, its walls are two feet thick and consist of inner and outer stone layers with a rubble fill. The inset windows are trimmed with brick and the structure is topped with a slate roof. It is one of the few remaining stone buildings in the Harbour Grace area and one of the few on the waterfront to have survived the disastrous fire of 1844.

Ridley Office has historic value because of its association with Newfoundland’s mercantile history. The building served as the business premises of one of Harbour Grace's best-known, and most notorious, merchants. From 1820 to 1870 Thomas Ridley was one of the most important fishing/sealing merchants in Newfoundland. Known for his stubbornness, he faced opposition in the community because of his business practices. He encountered similar difficulties during attempts to become elected to the House of Assembly in 1836 and 1840. Eventually he was elected in the district and served on the Executive Council from 1843 until 1848.

Because of their wealth and power, the Ridley family were involved with several "firsts" in Harbour Grace. In 1854 Thomas was the first to use gas lighting and in 1866 he was the first to use a steamship in the annual seal hunt. Thomas Ridley's son, William, was one of the founders of the Harbour Grace Water Company, the Harbour Grace Railway and the local grammar school.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Harbour Grace - Ridley Office – FPT 1559"

Character Defining Elements

All elements that define the building's 19th century stone design including:
-stone walls;
-gable roof;
-purple slate roof shingles;
-number of storeys;
-window size, style, trim and placement;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors;
-exterior brick trim on windows and doors;
-main entrance on front facade;
-transom window above main entrance;
-chimney style and placement; and,
-dimension, location and orientation of building.

Location and History

Community Harbour Grace
Municipality Town of Harbour Grace
Civic Address Beach Hill
Significant 1838 - 1838
Style 19th Century Vernacular
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade