160 York StreetSubmitted by fht on Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 9:05 am
This grand former single family dwelling and its block mates provide an interesting case study in late 19th century Fredericton architecture. These three fine homes (160/176/180 York Street) represent unique examples of three key styles in the city’s architectural lexicon. This building, now housing a funeral home, was built circa 1905 and later became an inn which was a favorite haunt of Lord Beaverbrook. The ornate Classical frontispiece with its huge colonnaded portico and solid veranda with balustrade are pure turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts, and much of the original interior has been retained including rich wooden ornamentation and fireplaces in each room.
161 Northumberland Street
The fireplace mantle in the front room has a signature with "1854" written underneath, although the building’s structure is nearly identical to 182 Brunswick Street, which could date this house to as early as 1830. It is virtually unchanged from its first appearance and features original siding and windows (single–hung and storm), and subtle Classical Revival adornment. The unusual hipped dormer, although potentially original to the house, has permanently closed exterior shutters as it is "fake" and doesn’t open to the interior. Next door is a duplicate to this house, which has not aged so gracefully, but it likewise displays some fine details to the careful observer.
163/165 Brunswick Street
Originally an inn, during the early 20th century this pair of houses with a connecting porte–cochère was the home of Lord and Lady Ashburnham. Thomas Ashburnham was a "remittance man" and retired soldier sent to live in Canada by his father, the Earl of a prominent British family. He fell in love with the voice of Maria Anderson, the local telephone night operator, and they married. Soon after, his older brothers died and he inherited the family estate and became the Earl. Their home had beautiful gardens and a greenhouse, and was the centre of an elite Fredericton social life. Lady Ashburnham is still recalled for her popular mustard preserve that bears her name: "Lady Ashburnham’s Pickles".
171 Church Street
While it possibly evolved from an earlier back portion (c. 1850), the grand frontspiece of this residence was built for Dr. Crockett in 1906 in the Beaux-Arts style. It appears to have served as the inspiration for the adjacent 205 Church Street, which it predates by a year or more. While the buildings appear similar, 171 Church has subtle differences; notably a wider spacing of the front Ionic column pairs, a lower roof pitch at the gabled pediment, wooden quoins at the building corners, and a shorter verandah. The interior boasts one of the City’s most stunning stained glass windows: a fanciful "summer" scene depicting a maiden surrounded by cherubs.
172/176/180 Charlotte Street
This array of houses, although varied in size, date of construction, and detail, present a remarkably harmonious streetscape. Viewed together, they show the strong rhythmic effect and potential that lay in the simple vocabulary of porch/gable roof/post/window expressed in the local tradition of wood construction. The estimated age for each is 1840 (172 Charlotte), 1910 (176 Charlotte), and 1860 (180 Charlotte).
176 York Street
Adjacent to the more flamboyant classical mansion lies this fine example of the Second Empire style in an unusual two-bay side entrance rendition. The tell-tale mansard roof is accompanied by an elegant pair of full-height tower bays capped with small pointed dormer windows fronting the street. The rectangular building with its narrow façade and fine side veranda entryway sits right on two property lines.
177 University Avenue
Prominent Loyalist and Chief Justice John Saunders built this house around 1833 using "a large portion of the material of the first Government House" which had been partially destroyed by a major fire in 1825. For example, Saunders reused all of the woodwork from the old dining room, where he had "enjoyed many a glass of wine to ’King and Country’ with men famous in the early history of this country." The wide grassed area which stretches from here up to Charlotte Street (along with a matching counterpart at the bottom of Smythe Street) dates back to the original 1786 survey of the City which reserved this area for farmers’ markets and cattle enclosures, although they likely never served either purpose.
180 York Street
The third of these large wooden Victorian houses is an outstanding residential example of the Gothic Revival style which was introduced to Fredericton architecture after the building of Christ Church Cathedral in the 1840’s-50’s. This residence probably dates from the 1860’s and boasts a generous wrap-around veranda and a pair of steep gabled dormers with opulent bargeboard trim capped by pendants and finials.