The Payne House was built in 1856 by a member of the Payne family and, because it survived the fire of 1944 which destroyed much of downtown Harbour Grace and because it remained essentially unaltered, it is a very good representative of its period. With its original twelve-pane windows, door and window surrounds, it is the best preserved of a row of houses all dating from about the same time.
At the beginning of the last century, May Sheppard, a daughter of the builder, took possession of the property. Her husband, Ernest Sheppard, opened a cooperage here, making barrels in the outbuildings which once stood below the house at the water's edge. After the Sheppards died the house was sold to an out-of-province resident who used it as a summer home. In 1985 Stephen Payne, a member of the original family, purchased the house.
The foundation is made of stone on three sides. The fourth wall, facing the harbour, is supported by a wooden sill. In the summer of 2000 restoration of the structure began and included work on the roof and the exterior wooden siding.
The Payne House was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure in September 1999.Updated July, 2004