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William Alexander House (Bridge House) Municipal Heritage Site

William Alexander House, Bonavista, NL.
William Alexander House, Bonavista, NL
William Alexander House, Bonavista, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

William Alexander House (also known as Bridge House) is a two-and-a-half storey wood framed Georgian style building. It is located near a bridge on Walkham’s Hill at 001 Alexander Street, Bonavista, NL. The municipal heritage designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

William Alexander House has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Bonavista due to its historic and aesthetic value.

William Alexander House is historically valuable for its age and its association with William Alexander. William Alexander House was built between 1811 and 1814 and is the oldest residential structure in Newfoundland that has been assigned a documented date. In the early 19th century, William Alexander, a prominent Scottish merchant planter, made his home in the flourishing fishing community of Bonavista. During his time in Bonavista he formed the firm of Alexander and Co. and contributed a great deal to the community of Bonavista.

William Alexander House has aesthetic value due to its architectural uniqueness in the community of Bonavista. A two and a half storey, Georgian style house with a central hall plan, William Alexander House is the only house of this style in Bonavista. It features a highly symmetrical, 3 bay front façade capped by peaked dormers on a steep gable roof with end chimneys. This house is the earliest documented one in Bonavista, and helped define the architectural character of the community.

William Alexander House also has aesthetic value for its association with Alexander Strathie. In 1811, William Alexander commissioned his fellow Scottish countryman, builder and architect, Alexander Strathie to build him a house in Bonavista. Strathie came to Newfoundland from Renfrew, Scotland in 1811 and began construction on William Alexander House. Alexander House was the first building that Strathie built in Bonavista, but it would not be his last. Strathie stayed in Newfoundland and constructed many more buildings in Bonavista including a home for his family which eventually became known as “Renfrew Castle.” His architectural legacy continued through the generations to his son Ronald Strathie and others.

William Alexander House has further aesthetic value as it contributes greatly to the landscape of Bonavista. Located on Walkham’s Hill its size and style are prominantly displayed from both land and sea, standing as a testament to the affluence and influence of William Alexander in the community. It is also significant for its location next to a bridge, from whence it presumably gets its alternative name, Bridge House.

Source: Town of Bonavista, Town Council meeting minutes of 2006/08/14


Character Defining Elements

Those exterior elements that reflect the Georgian style of architecture, including:
-3 bay façade;
-number of storeys;
-peaked dormers;
-end chimneys;
-wooden construction;
-narrow wooden clapboard sheathing;
-steep gable roof;
-window position;
-location of entrance; and
-general massing, location and orientation.

Location and History

Community Bonavista
Municipality Town of Bonavista
Civic Address 001 Alexander Street
Construction 1811 - 1814
Architect
Alexander Strathie
Builder
Alexander Strathie
Style Georgian
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade
Website Link http://www.townofbonavista.com/