(154 New Cove Road, St. John's)
Bryn Mawr in Welsh means "big hill," and is the name of the house located on top of a hill off New Cove Road. It has a spectacular view of the surrounding area, especially of Signal Hill to the southeast.
Bryn Mawr, also known as Baird's Cottage, was built in 1907 by prominent local businessman James C. Baird. Born in Scotland in 1828, Baird came to Newfoundland in 1844 to work as a draper's assistant. In 1853 he started his own business with his brother, focussing on imports and draperies. Through a series of partnerships, Baird was also involved in a number of different businesses, including groceries, wines, spirits and supplies for the fisheries. James Baird Limited eventually grew into one of the largest mercantile and fish exporting operations in the colony.
In 1907 Baird purchased a 7.5 acre plot of land along what is now New Cove Road. He tore down an existing house, and built the present structure, a fine example of a Queen Anne country house. Its asymmetrical facade results from a seemingly random placement of towers, gables, dormers, bays and window openings, all elements typical of Queen Anne design. Features such as the richly decorated eaves and porch, and the use of various types of exterior sheathing and windows, also conform to Queen Anne style. The glasswork is also impressive, with leaded cut glass in the vestibule, along with stained-glass in other parts of the house.
The harmonious use of these elements bears witness to the superior craftsmanship of architect William F. Butler. He is best known for his elaborate residential designs commissioned by the elite of St. John's. As a country home, Bryn Mawr may not be as eclectic as city houses designed by Butler but is nonetheless a unique expression of his creative impulses.
The house existed as a summer home and residence for the Baird family for decades. Around 1970 the property was sold to local businessman Jim Steinhauer. The amount of land surrounding the house has diminished over time to 4.5 acres, as the city expanded around the property. While no longer on the outskirts of St. John's, the property nonetheless evokes the spirit of a country retreat. The house is still owned by the Steinhauer family and remains a private residence.
Bryn Mawr was recognised as a Registered Heritage Structure in September 1993.
Also view the Bryn Mawr Registered Heritage Structure on the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador web site. The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site has on its site only a portion of the registered heritage structures in Newfoundland and Labrador. To view a complete list or search for a particular structure visit the Heritage Foundation's Property Search page.