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Sunnyside House Registered Heritage Structure

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

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

Sunnyside House is an excellent extant example of a 19th-century estate with a house, gardens and outbuildings. Located on historic Circular Road, Sunnyside House is surrounded on all sides by merchant and upper class houses in old St. John’s. The designation is confined to the footprint of the main dwelling house.

Heritage Value

Sunnyside House has been designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador because it holds aesthetic, historic and environmental value.

Sunnyside House is aesthetically valuable because it is an excellent surviving example of a mid to late 19th-century estate located in old St. John’s. The main dwelling house is situated on a large country-like piece of land with mature trees and amongst other related structures. It is constructed of wood and feature typical Victorian Gothic Revival Cottage elements. The dwelling house, located at the western end of the property, was built in three parts. The central portion is a gable roofed building with a 5-sided porch at the main entrance, and it was built first in 1846. The next owners extended this building by adding east and west wings in the 1880s. This house maintains most of its original fabric and features wooden, double hung, multi-paned windows, peaked dormer windows and glass roof bay windows, as well as multiple chimneys and bargeboard in the gables. It maintains a high state of preservation which can be seen throughout the house, both inside and out.

Sunnyside House has historical value because of its associations with its notable owners. The original owner, John O’Mara, came to Newfoundland sometime between 1831-1845 from Waterford, Ireland and established an extensive mercantile firm. Like many of his peers at the time he became heavily involved in politics. In 1847 O’Mara was Commissioner of Roads for St. John’s, the District Health Warden, and he was Justice of the Peace for the central district of the city in 1853.

Sunnyside was purchased by Scottish born James Murray in 1872 and it was Murray who made additions to the property as it stands today. James Murray operated one of the largest fishery supply firms in Newfoundland and he, too, was involved in Island politics. Murray died at his St. John’s residence, Sunnyside, on January 16, 1900. Sunnyside is owned and lived in by members of the Murray family today.

Sunnyside House has environmental value because it stands amongst other original structures on a large area surrounded by mature trees. It has maintained its original country-like setting in the heart of old St. John’s and is representative of an earlier time in the City’s history.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - Sunnyside House - FPT 3128”

Character Defining Elements

All those elements that define the Victorian Gothic Revival Cottage dwelling house, including:
-steeply pitched gable roofs;
-multiple chimneys;
-bay windows with fascia boards;
-5-sided porch;
-narrow, wooden clapboard;
-glass-roofed ground level bay windows;
-all trim, pilasters, corner boards;
-peaked dormer windows;
-double hung windows with mullions; and
-all window and door openings.

All those elements that reflect its environmental setting, including:
-location on a large parcel of land in original configuration;
-spatial relation of house to outbuildings; and
-large mature lot with trees.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 070 Circular Road
Construction 1846 - 1872
Style 19th Century Vernacular
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade