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George C. Harris House Municipal Heritage Site

George C. Harris House, Grand Bank, NL
George C. Harris House, Grand Bank, NL
George C. Harris House, Grand Bank, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

George C. Harris House is a two-and-a-half storey Queen Anne style house with a steeply-pitched, truncated hipped roof topped by a widow’s walk. Built in 1908, it is located at 9 Water Street, Grand Bank, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

George C. Harris House has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Grand Bank due to its aesthetic and historic values.

George C. Harris House has aesthetic value as it is an example of the Queen Anne style of architecture with Classical influences. Built during the height of the Grand Bank fishery, this house is rich in detail. It features ionic pilasters on the corner boards - consistent with the revival of eighteenth century detailing common to Queen Anne architecture. It also has a balcony over the front porch supported by classical columns and a steeply pitched truncated hipped roof with a belvedere or “widow’s walk”. Additionally decorative are the slightly kicked eaves, supported by detailed eaves brackets. The large, symmetrical windows on the facade convey an overall feeling of grandeur. George C. Harris built two other houses beside this one in a similar style, one of which still exists in Grand Bank today.

George C. Harris House has further aesthetic value as it is a well known landmark in the community. Clearly visible from both the land and sea, the George C. Harris House is grand in both style and setting. It is a part of a larger grouping of grand houses, often referred to as the “painted ladies,” in the waterfront area of the community. This location, in relation to the other houses, is a testament to the dominance and prosperity of the Banks fishery in early 20th century Grand Bank.

George C. Harris House has historic value because of its associations with the Harris family. George C. Harris, the owner of the house, became one of the most famous businessmen in Grand Bank and Newfoundland. His father, Samuel Harris, was one of the pioneers of Grand Bank’s economic boom of the late 1800s. In 1914, George became managing director of his father’s business, Samuel Harris Ltd., and began an expansion of this enterprise on the Burin Peninsula. While initially successful, the rapid expansion backfired after the end of the First World War. Over-expansion, declining fish prices and government regulations eventually forced Harris into bankruptcy in 1922. At the time, it was thought to be the largest bankruptcy in the Dominion of Newfoundland. The loss of his father's business devastated Harris. He was left with nothing, and if not for the intervention of his brother-in-law, a local banker, he might have lost his house as well. George’s wife Charlotte “Lottie” Pratt was the sister of renowned poet E. J. Pratt. Lottie was a trained singer, musician and artist and was known locally for her talent. George and Lottie Harris lived in the house until their deaths in 1954.

Source: Town of Grand Bank Regular Council Meeting Motion #2007-924, March 12, 2007.

Character Defining Elements

All original features which relate to the age and Queen Anne design of the property including:
- hipped roof with kicked eaves and moulded eaves brackets;
- cresting on roof;
- peaked dormer size and style;
- number of storeys;
- narrow wooden clapboard;
- molded corner boards and other defining trims;
- window size, style, trim and placement;
- 9/1 windows;
- entablature window trim;
- size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors;
- transom window lights over door;
- location and size of portico and balustrade on front facade;
- chimney style and placement;
- dimension, location and orientation of building, and;
- unimpeded view to and from the harbour.

Location and History

Community Grand Bank
Municipality Town of Grand Bank
Civic Address 009 Water Street
Construction 1908 - 1908
Style Queen Anne (Modified Shingle Style)
Building Plan Square
Website Link http://www.townofgrandbank.com