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Martin McNamara House Municipal Heritage Building

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/04/29

View of main facade, facing south, Martin McNamara House, 15 Plank Road, St. John's, NL.  Photo taken 2004.; HFNL 2007
Martin McNamara House, 15 Plank Road
View of 15 Plank Road prior to restorations, which took place in 1995.; HFNL 2007
Martin McNamara House, 15 Plank Road
View of a drawing of Martin McNamara House, 15 Plank Road, done 1975 by Jean Ball.; Gift of Heritage, Newfoundland Historic Trust third edition
Drawing, Martin McNamara House

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/11/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Martin McNamara House is a simple, hipped roof wooden house located at 15 Plank Road, St. John’s. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Martin McNamara House was designated a Municipal Heritage Building because it is aesthetically and historically valuable.

The McNamara House is a rare example of a central chimney, wooden house located within the City of St. John’s. Built prior to 1849 this home likely dates to the 1700s because of its style. Located in what used to be a primarily Irish immigrant neighbourhood, the house is reminiscent of very early Irish vernacular construction. The central chimney is prominent on this small, hipped roof house and was a primary heat source for 18th-19th century homes. Rooms on both sides of the house could be heated from fireplaces joined to one chimney. Other details, such as the narrow clapboard, six over six windows and wide corner boards give this house a classic, vernacular appeal.

McNamara House has historic value because the simplicity in style reflects a time and place when St. John’s was a small fishing town. The house was constructed on Brine’s Farm, which was part of a crown land grant to James Brine, and the structure appears on Noad’s Map of 1849. Martin McNamara, a fisherman, bought the property from the Brine estate in 1857 and it is still used today as a residence. Structures like the McNamara House are a rarity in St. John’s, making this home particularly important in history.

Source: City of St. John's, Council meeting held 1995/01/30

Character-Defining Elements

All elements that are reflective of the building's early Irish vernacular design, including:
-central chimney;
-hipped roof with wood shingles;
-wooden construction;
-narrow clapboard;
-6/6 windows;
-number and dimensions of windows;
-location in early Irish immigrant area of town;
-orientation towards St. John's harbour; and
-small dimensions.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

City of St. John's

Recognition Statute

Newfoundland and Labrador Urban and Rural Planning Act

Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1700/01/01 to 1847/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, St. John's, NL

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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