Dimmer Residence (Fox Cove)
The Dimmer Residence is a landmark structure in the community of Fox Cove, the oldest dwelling and one of the few to survive the tidal wave that hit the Burin Peninsula in 1929.
© 1998 Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
No one knows the exact date the Dimmer Residence was built, but it is thought to be around 1859. Built by Harry and Thomas Dimmer, it has served as the household for the Dimmer family for over a century.
The best known members of the family were not the brothers who built the house, but Henry Dimmer (son of Harry) and his family. Henry married Mary Antle, who served as the midwife for the community and surrounding area. During the early part of the century, it is estimated Mary delivered hundreds of babies in the Dimmer Residence. Because she had some medical knowledge, she became an unofficial community doctor, and the house became a drop-in clinic for many people in the community.
The most famous event involving the house occurred on November 18, 1929, when an earthquake registering 7.2 on the Richter scale occurred approximately 250 km. south of the Burin Peninsula. The resulting tidal wave travelled at 130 km/hr and ranged in height from five to 15 m. Striking the Burin Peninsula, the "great big sea" wiped out many houses along that stretch of the coast, causing more than $1 million worth of damage and killing 27 people. Located high on a hill overlooking the harbour, the Dimmer house miraculously survived, and in the aftermath, served as a shelter for many of the victims.
After Henry and Mary passed away, the house came into the ownership of John and Eileen Dimmer. In the early 1990s Eileen died. The house stood vacant for several years until a community effort was launched to restore it. The house now belongs to Ray Whitten and is a private residence.
This is an example of one of the earlier styles of vernacular architecture in Newfoundland. The house is a wooden two-storeyed structure. With a steep pitched roof and three-over-three and three-over-six windows. There is also a linhay in the back of the house, although the date of its construction is not known. Few examples of this style of architecture remain in Newfoundland today.
The Dimmer Residence became a Registered Heritage Structure in September 1995.