Devon House
(59 Duckworth Street, St. John's)

Built around 1880, Devon House is one of the few houses located in downtown St. John's that survived the Great Fire of 1892.

Devon House, 59 Duckworth Street, St. John's, NL
Devon House, St. John's, NL
Devon House reflects the Second Empire style of architecture.
© 1998 Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

No one knows the exact date that Devon House was built. It is shown on a city map in 1880, but not on a map in 1850. It is believed the house was built closer to 1880 than to 1850. Unfortunately, it is also not known who built the house nor for whom it was built.

It is known that in 1891 the house belonged to A. M. MacKay, an agent for the Anglo-American Telegraph Company. MacKay came to Newfoundland decades earlier from Nova Scotia to take charge of the Newfoundland telegraph lines. He was instrumental in repairing the cross-Newfoundland lines and the Gulf Cable and relaying the Trans-Atlantic Cable. He is also given credit for helping to introduce electricity to the island and for installing the first telephone in 1878. MacKay was also a member of the House of Assembly from 1878 to 1889, representing the district of Burgeo and Lapoile.

The next prominent family to be linked to the house is the Templeman family who moved into the house in the mid-1890s. Phillip Templeman was a merchant based in Bonavista who was wealthy enough to own a house not only there but also in St. John's. Templeman also served as a member of the House of Assembly. The family lived in the house until the mid-1920s.

After the Templemans moved out of Devon House, a variety of people and organisations owned the building. During the 1930s the Pinsent family lived there. The Canadian Red Cross bought the house in the 1940s and used it until the 1970s. It then operated briefly as a youth hostel until an accounting firm bought the premises. In 1991 the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador bought the house and the building is now used as a craft centre for the organisation.

Devon House is a four-storeyed mixed stone and brick building on the east end of Duckworth Street. Bay widows are found on the street level and the second floor in both the front and back. Unusual peaked towers are built into the roof at both front and back of the third floor. The brickwork also shows ornate patterns.

Few changes have been made to the exterior of the building over the years, aside from some restoration work and additions for safety reasons. The Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador is striving to keep the building as close to its original condition as possible. Devon House was recognised as a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in May 1992. This structure was also awarded the Southcott Award for heritage restoration by the Newfoundland Historic Trust.

Registered Heritage Structures Table of Contents

Also view the Devon House Registered Heritage Structure, and the Devon House - City of St. John's Heritage Site 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.