(43 Monkstown Road)
One of the oldest dwellings in St. John's, Harris Cottage managed to survive two of the Great Fires that ravaged the city during the nineteenth century.
Harris Cottage was built in 1833 in the area of St. John's referred to as Georgestown. People originally settled the area in the years following the Great Fire of 1817 because they did not want to risk losing everything to another such fire. Georgestown was then located just outside of the downtown core of St. John's and was considered to be a separate community. As the century progressed, Georgestown was gradually absorbed into greater St. John's and many of the older, original houses were torn down and new ones built.
In 1832 William Harris moved to St. John's from Ferryland. One of the earliest identifiable builders in St. John's, Harris was a carpenter and master builder who was responsible for many of the houses in Georgestown. His son, also called William, followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a master builder himself. He is also credited with building many of the houses in the area.
However, neither of these two men was the most famous member of the Harris family. That honour belonged to one of their descendents, John Harris, who became well known in St. John's as a businessman and politician. Born in 1860, Harris grew up in the cottage. After being elected to St. John's City Council, he was also appointed to the Legislative Council in 1892, the youngest man ever appointed. In 1912, he became president of the Legislative Council. Harris died three years later.
Harris Cottage remained in the family for over 150 years until it was sold in 1990. Despite its age, the house remains in good shape. Because of the Great Fires of 1846 and 1892, there are very few private dwellings as old as Harris Cottage still standing in St. John's.
The cottage's style of construction was common in the 1830s. A two-and-a-half-storeyed wooden building, it has a gabled roof, one of the first of its kind in the Georgestown area. The house has a five-sided porch, brackets and a decorative barge board on the roof. The house also has its original front door and many of its original windows.
The house remains a private dwelling. It was recognised as a Registered Heritage Structure in April 1990. This structure was also awarded the Southcott Award for heritage restoration by the Newfoundland Historic Trust.
Also view the Harris Cottage Registered Heritage Structure and the Harris Cottage - 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.