Bartra is a two-and-a-half storey Queen Anne Revival house with a basement level. It sits on Circular Road in St. John’s, surrounded by other historic merchant houses. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Bartra was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1994 because of its historic and aesthetic value.
Bartra was built in 1905 for Irish merchant Walter S. Monroe, who named it for an island near his family’s estate in County Mayo, Ireland. Moving to Newfoundland in 1888 to work for his uncle, Monroe soon established his own export firm. He eventually become president of the Imperial Tobacco Company and director of several other firms, including Newfoundland Light and Power. Like many business owners of the era, Monroe was also involved in politics, serving as prime minister of Newfoundland from 1924 to 1928.
Monroe lived in Bartra for only two years. In 1907, he sold the property to William Reid, director of the Reid Newfoundland Company. The Reids led the construction of the Newfoundland railway and helped develop the pulp and paper industry, telecommunications and the coastal boat network. In 1933, the Reid family sold the property to A. E. Hickman, another prominent local merchant who had served as interim prime minister in 1924. A. E. Hickman and Company Limited was involved in the fish export business and marine supplying, also opening one of the first car dealerships on the island. Bartra changed owners twice in the 1970s. It was briefly a bed-and-breakfast and is currently a private residence once again.
Bartra was, at the time of its construction, one of the largest single family dwellings in the city of St. John’s. It was designed in the Queen Anne Revival style by carpenter and architect William F. Butler, who built several other houses in the neighbourhood. The pedimented portico, multi-gable roof and numerous bay windows are characteristic of Butler’s work. Similar features can be seen at nearby Winterholme and The House, both built by Butler in the same period. The detailed ornamentation on Bartra’s facade, combined with the size of the house, creates a sense of grandeur that reflects the social and economic prominence of the owners. This exterior facade has changed little since Bartra’s construction. Although the interior of the house has undergone renovations over the decades (most notably the post-1933 relocation of the kitchen from the basement level to the main floor), it retains its impressive entrance hall with a large oak staircase and oak paneling.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John’s – Bartra – FPT 632”
Character Defining Elements
All elements that define the building’s Queen Anne design including:
-size and general massing of two-and-a-half storey house with basement level;
-size and location of chimneys;
-pediments above dormers;
-asymmetry of facade;
-multiple bay windows;
-narrow wooden clapboard on exterior;
-ornate exterior detailing including eaves brackets, returned eaves, 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;
-large, pedimented portico;
-size, dimensions and location of house, and;
-all original interior woodworking and additional elements that reflect the age and usage of the house.
All elements that define the building’s historic status as a merchant dwelling, including:
-location on large lot with mature trees, and;
-proximity to other large merchant dwellings of the period, including those constructed by William Butler.
Location and History
City of St. John's
028 Circular Road
1905 - 1905
William F. Butler
Rectangular Long Façade