One of the few surviving salt-box structures in the northern Bonavista Peninsula and the oldest house remaining in the community today, Randell House still stands despite years of neglect.
© 1998 Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
The house was built for John Randell, a native of Symondsbury, Dorset, who received the land grant for the property in 1795. That same year he married Patience Phillips of Kearley's Harbour.
John and Patience's first child, William, was born in the house in 1798, and the census for 1800 lists John Randel (spelled with one L) with a wife and two children. John died in the 1850s, and left the house to his two youngest sons, Isaac and Robert. Isaac's son, also named John, inherited the house around this time as a wedding gift.
John (the son of Isaac), made several major changes to the house. He removed the large central fireplace, replaced the original back staircase with a central one, and built a new front porch with coloured glass windows. Traces of the original back staircase can still be seen in the house.
Perhaps the best-known child of the second John Randell was Captain Isaac Robert Randell (1871-1942), who was also born in the house. In his career he was master of a number of ships, and led several Arctic voyages for the Canadian government. He also served two terms as a member of the House of Assembly and was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1931.
Captain Isaac Randell did not live in the house, but his sister did. Mary Patience (1881-1956) served as a nurse during the First World War, and later after her return to Newfoundland worked as a teacher and ran the telegraph and post office from the house. The building served as the post office and telegraph office for Port Rexton and the surrounding area. A most enterprising woman, Mary Patience had a windmill constructed at the rear of the house to provide power. She added a bay window off the living room.
The house was passed down through the family until 1967, when it was sold to a cousin. In 1995 it was sold to Florence Severs who began the difficult task of restoring the premises. People in the Port Rexton area estimate that when Severs purchased the property, the house had not been occupied since 1943 and was on the verge of collapse. She has worked diligently to restore it.
The Randell House is now an excellent example of well-planned and executed heritage preservation. The building has been restored to a near original state, although the house retains the porch and living-room bay window. The porch features carved decoration in the eaves and still retains the coloured glass windows.
The Randell House, which remains a private residence, was recognised as a Registered Heritage Structure in March 1996. In 2000, Florence Severs was awarded the Southcott Award for Restoration by the Newfoundland Historic Trust for her work in preserving and restoring the property.