Description of Historic Place
The Clarke House is a two-storey, wood, Gothic Revival Style, mid-Victorian house in a residential setting in the St. Andrews Town Plat at 62 Princess Royal Street. It has a one-storey rear extension and a free-standing, one-and-a-half storey carriage house.
Built in 1868, the Clarke House is designated a Provincial Historic Site as a fine example of a largely unaltered, two-storey wood Gothic Revival home of that period. It has a rear ell extension and a free-standing carriage house, both appearing to be contemporary with the house. The house's style is typified by the centred cross- gable on the front façade. Also of note is the decorative panelled entry door with the narrow sidelights and transom window in the central entrance.
The Clark House is also recognized for its long association with the Clarke family and their various achievements, as well as for its connection to the seagoing heritage of St. Andrews. The buildings were built for Captain Nelson Clarke (1832-1895), a master mariner known in the community as a sea captain and ship owner in the coastal trade, and as a harbour pilot and harbour master of the Port of Saint Andrews, in the years when the town's economy centred on shipping and fishing activities. Capt. Clarke's father, Capt. James Clarke (1806-1879), was a master mariner and ship owner (three of whose sons, Nelson, William and Desmond, became master mariners) and who, after many years at sea, was keeper of the Sand Reef lighthouse in Passamaquoddy Bay on the approaches to St. Andrews. Capt. Nelson Clarke's son, Capt. Nelson Melville Clarke (1860-1932), or "Nellie Clarke", was also a well-known St. Andrews' master mariner and ship owner. He lived in the house until his marriage in 1897. The property illustrates the economic status and community standing that could be attained by master mariners, and how this could advance the prospects of their families. Of Capt. Nelson Clarke's six sons, one became a sea captain, two became medical doctors in New York, one a merchant in Vancouver, and George Johnson Clarke, who entered public life, became Premier of New Brunswick. The sixth son died while a youngster. The Clarke family was highly regarded for their achievements and is recalled in St. Andrews' local history. The property remained continuously in the Clarke family until 2004. In 1974, the buildings were sympathetically restored by the builder's grandson, Richard Shepard Clarke, of Seattle, Washington, to maintain their 19th century appearance. In 2004 Mr. Clarke bequeathed the property to the St Andrews Civic Trust.
The Clarke House is also recognized as the childhood home of the Honourable George Johnson Clarke, Premier of New Brunswick from 1914-1917, the only Premier from Charlotte County. He was born in St. Andrews in 1857, educated there and at the provincial Normal School in Fredericton. After teaching in Charlotte County schools, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1886, opened his practice in St. Stephen and entered local politics. In 1903, Clarke was elected to the Legislative Assembly. He was chosen Speaker in 1909 serving until January 1914 when he was appointed Attorney General in the administration of Premier J.K. Flemming. In March 1914, following charges of financial impropriety against Mr Flemming, Clarke was named Acting Premier and then Premier on December 17, 1914. To recognize George Clarke’s service to New Brunswick he was to be appointed Lieutenant Governor in 1917. While the details were being arranged Premier Clarke’s health failed rapidly. He resigned on February 1, and died on February 26, 1917.
The Clarke house is also a Local Historic Place designated as such by the Town of St. Andrews.
Source: New Brunswick Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Heritage Branch, File: “Clarke House” #131.
The character-defining elements that describe the Clarke House include:
- two-storey rectangular massing;
- gable roof with steeply-pitched central cross-gable;
- central entrance;
- large eave returns;
- dual inset chimneys;
- window in centre gable roof capped by small pediment;
- 6 over 6 vertical sliding wood windows;
- wooden slatted shutters;
- narrow 6-pane sidelights on each side of front door;
- horizontal transom window over front door with fan design achieve by the diagonal placement of the 5 muntins;
- paneled wooden front door, including 2 lower panels 13” (33 cm) wide x 14” (35.6 cm) high, 2 upper panels 44 3/4” (113.7 cm) high including unique 9” (22.9 cm) high semi-circular upper ends;
- horizontal wooden clapboard siding with 5 1/2” (14 cm) high skirt board and 16” (40.6 cm) wide corner boards;
- central front-to-back hallway both up and down with four rooms on each floor;
- random width, stained softwood floors;
- symmetrical window placement and 2:1 (high:wide) window proportions;
- carriage house with a one-and-a-half storey massing with small centred copula on gable roof;
- 7” wide corner bards on the one-storey rear house extension and on the freestanding clapboard carriage house;
- cedar shingle roofing on both buildings;
- the lot within the town plat and the arrangement of the two buildings on the lot.