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The House - City of St. John's Heritage Site

21 Rennie's Mill Road

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

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

Description of Historic Place

The House is a two-and-one-half-storey Queen Anne style structure with an attached garage, located at 21 Rennie’s Mill Road, St. John’s. The municipal heritage designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The House has been designated by the City of St. John's because of its architectural, historical and environmental values.

The House has architectural value because of the architect associated with it, William F. Butler. Butler, one of the most prestigious architects in the region, was responsible for building some of the most impressive structures in pre-confederation Newfoundland including Bartra and Winterholme. The House, which is built in the Queen Anne style of architecture, is a fine example of the work undertaken by Butler after the Great Fire of 1892. Typical characteristics of this style are featured on this house, including the pedimented portico, leaded-glass windows, and dominating double bays. As do many of Butler’s buildings, The House speaks of the extravagance of its original owners through its ornate exterior detailing and intricate interior wood detailing. Other notable details of this house that add to its overall appeal are its textured finishes, symmetrical façade, iron porch fencing, and bold moulded trim. As well, the attached car garage is one of the first of its kind in the city, which also speaks to the wealth of the original owners.

Historically, The House is significant because of its associations with prominent businessman James Ryan. The House was originally built for Ryan, who was a Bonavista merchant and politician; he was one of the few outport merchants who was able to build a home in St. John’s while still maintaining his successful business in the outport. James Ryan and Company was one of the largest fishery supply and import-export firms in Newfoundland and Ryan himself was well regarded throughout the region for his generous offerings to the church and communities’ most needy.

Environmentally, The House is valuable because of it location. Situated on the corner of Monkstown Road and Rennie’s Mill Road, this extravagant house dominates the streetscape, an important marker of the beginning of the Rennie’s Mill Historic District.

Source: City of St. John’s, meeting held 2004/11/29.

Character Defining Elements

All those original features which are reflective of William F. Butler's representation of Queen Anne style, including:
-multiple pediments;
-varying exterior wall textures;
-an imposing pedimented porch;
-narrow wooden clapboard;
-wooden shingles;
-original wooden windows and doors and their openings;
-original doors;
-double bays;
-original leaded-glass transom above main entranceway;
-all other original leaded-glass windows;
-iron fencing around porch;
-all decorative exterior features including mouldings and trim; and
-overall dimensions and location of structure.

Notes of Interest

Twin 2 1/2 storey bow windows with pediments. Exterior sheathing a mix of narrow wood clapboard and wood shingle. House is not on the 1889 insurance atlas, but does appear on the 1907 atlas.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 021 Rennie's Mill Road
Construction (circa) 1890 - 1907
William F. Butler
William F. Butler
James Ryan
Style Queen Anne
Building Plan Square
Website Link