Howard House - City of St. John's Heritage Site
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area
Description of Historic Place
Howard House is a large, wooden, four-storey Queen Anne Revival style house. Located in the middle of the St. John's Ecclesiastical District, this house is surrounded by imposing and historic buildings of all kinds and on all sides. Number seven can be found at the base of a narrow, steep one-way street known as Garrison Hill, and the property extends southward to a large green area with mature trees, surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The designation includes the building, the garden, fence and mature trees on the lot.
Howard House has been designated a Municipal Heritage Building because of its historic, architectural and environmental values.
Historically, Howard House is significant because of its associations with both the Parker Family and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation. Built in the years immediately following the Great Fire of 1892, the building now called Howard House originally served as a private home for the wealthy Parker family. James Parker, who was the senior partner in the shoe company called Parker and Monroe, built the house in 1892. The company's factory on Alexander Street made 100,000 pairs of boots and shoes a year at that time, most of which were sold to Newfoundlanders. After the passing of James Parker, the house became the property of his daughter Margaret, who promptly sold it to the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation. In 1954, the house became the first Newfoundland convent for the Sisters of Service who also operated it as a hostel for young women who came to St. John's to work. Its role as a youth hostel for young women is reflective of a time when the young women in Newfoundland’s outports were expected to leave home and live independently in larger urban centers in efforts to earn money in aid of their families.
Architecturally, Howard House is significant because it is one of the last original, single-dwelling mansions still remaining in historic downtown St. John’s. Built in the Queen Anne Revival style, this house boasts an ornate roofline and a number of decorative stained-glass windows. Also in keeping with the Queen Anne Revival style is the multi-textured finish on the house of narrow clapboard on the bottom with scalloped cedar shingles in the pediments. A pair of sidelights flank either side of the main doorway while a large transom window sits above it, creating a clean, yet elegant, entranceway. Thick moulding surrounds each of the doors and windows and, at various points on the house, there are original oversized eaves brackets, all adding to the grand nature of the structure. At the time of its construction, the considerable dimensions of this house, in addition to its detailing, signaled to the residents of St. John’s that the owner was of high status both socially and financially.
Environmentally, the Howard house is significant because of both the land on which it sits and the iron fencing surrounding the property. Unlike many of the downtown properties, the Howard House still retains its large lot, complete with mature trees and plants. Located on the corner of Queen’s Road and Garrison Hill, the house is highly visible and a recognizable downtown landmark within the historic ecclesiastical district. Located along the edge of the property is a stone retaining wall and iron fencing. This feature of the house is possibly its most significant because it is the only house in downtown St. John’s with this particular style of fencing.
Source: City of St. John's Meeting held 2005/02/14
Character Defining Elements
All elements of the building's Queen Anne style of architecture, including:
-the ornate multi-gabled roof;
-pediments with scalloped shingles,
-all original windows and doors;
-original stained-glass windows;
-eaves detailing including oversized eaves brackets;
-moulded trim along windows and doors;
-location and size of shed dormer;
-location of window and door openings;
-base panelling on front facade; and,
-location, orientation and dimensions of house.
All elements that contribute to the building's environmental value, including:
-garden and mature trees;
-original stone retaining wall on the property; and
-original iron fencing surrounding the property.
Notes of Interest
There are stained-glass windows throughout the house. Fencing surrounding property is unique, found nowhere else downtown.
Location and History
||City of St. John's
||007 Garrison Hill
||1892 - 1892
||Rectangular Short Façade