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Bartra - City of St. John's Heritage Site

Bartra, St. John's, NL.
Bartra, Circular Road, St. John's
Bartra, St. John's

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area

Description of Historic Place

Bartra is a two-and-a-half storey Queen Anne style structure located on historic Circular Road in St. John’s. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Bartra has been designated a Municipal Heritage Building because of its historic and architectural values.

The history of Bartra is quite significant due to its associations with a number of very influential Newfoundland figures. Built 1904-1905, this house was designed by noted architect William F. Butler, who built many significant structures in the province. Originally, this house was constructed to accommodate the family of Walter S. Monroe, a native of Dublin, Ireland. Monroe was an established businessman and entered politics in 1923, though unsuccessfully. He was elected a year later and served as Prime Minister of Newfoundland during the turbulent years from 1924 to 1928. Monroe sold the property to William Reid, another very prominent Newfoundland figure. Reid is best known for his leading role in the construction of the Newfoundland railway, a development that greatly improved the lives of Newfoundland residents.

In 1933, the Reid family sold the property to A. E. Hickman, another of Newfoundland's most prominent businessmen. During his life he ran one of the island's most diverse and successful businesses operating under the name A. E. Hickman and Company Limited. Hickman capitalized early on the potential of the automobile in Newfoundland and set up one of the first car dealerships on the island. He, too, became involved in politics and in 1924 he served as Prime Minister of Newfoundland for just one month, the shortest term of leadership in the history of the province.

Architecturally, Bartra is a valuable fixture in the Rennie's Mill Road National Historic District. Situated on a sizeable mature lot, Bartra is one of the largest single family dwellings in the city of St. John’s. Built in the Queen Anne style, this house is typical of those built by William F. Butler. The impressive pedimented portico, multi-gable roof and numerous bays are a telltale sign of Butler’s involvement in the design of this house. His attention to detail and craftsmanship is exhibited in his selection of window treatments, eaves and moulding decoration. The exterior of this house conveys a sense of grandeur and elegance, which is fitting since it housed some of the most important figures in Newfoundland’s history. The lack of exterior alterations in combination with its overall appeal makes this house a rarity in St. John’s when compared to other houses built during the same time period.

Source: City of St. John’s, meeting held 1987/04/15

Character Defining Elements

All elements that define the building's Queen Anne design including:
-asymmetry of facade;
-multi-gabled roof;
-pediments above dormers;
-multiple bays;
-narrow wooden clapboard on exterior;
-ornate exterior detailing including eaves brackets, scalloped shingles in pediments, fanlight detailing;
-original lead glass windows;
-original multi-paned windows throughout the house;
-thick window mouldings including entablatures;
-rounded windows and moulding on right gable end of house;
-turret located on the right gable end of house;
-size, dimensions and location of house; and,
-all original interior woodworking and additional elements that reflect the age and usage of the house.

Notes of Interest

Multiple bay windows, pedimented dormers with used of dentils, curved bay, repeated sunburst motif. Plasterwork, including moldings, were done by Mr. James Richard Chalker of St. John's. The house's rather unusual name comes from the family's country estate in County Dublin Ireland. Monroe was born in Dublin,
Ireland, in 1871 and moved to Newfoundland in 1888 to work with his uncle, Moses Monroe. After his uncle's death, Walter Monroe
established his own export firm that quickly expanded. He served as Prime Minister of Newfoundland during one of its most
turbulent periods, from 1924 until 1928. In 1907 Monroe sold the house to William Reid. The Reid family is among the most important in the history of the province, with their most famous achievement being the construction of the Newfoundland Railway. The Reids owned Bartra until 1933, when A. E. Hickman purchased it. In 1924 he served as prime minister of Newfoundland for just one month, the shortest term of leadership in the history of Newfoundland. The house remained in the Hickman family until 1970. Bartra is one of the largest single family dwellings in
St. John's with a total area of approximately 3300 sq. m. (almost 11,000 sq. ft.). It has seven working fireplaces.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 028 Circular Road
Construction 1904 - 1905
William F.Butler
Horwood Lumber Co. (probably); HJ Thomas
Style Queen Anne
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade
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