Description of Historic Place
The Lestock DesBrisay House is a one-storey Regency style dwelling with a low-pitched hipped roof. It is located on Main Street at the corner of Cunard Street in Richibucto.
The Lestock DesBrisay House is designated as a Local Historic Place for its architecture and for its association with the merchant Lestock Peach Wilson DesBrisay.
The building, a rare example of Regency style, is remarkably well preserved and retains much of its original detail. The original house consists of a rectangular structure with a hipped roof. Two chimneys rise above the two smaller sides of the roof which give the building a perfect symmetry with its facade. Its exterior stucco finish is not original; the original finish was a layer of smooth horizontal boards or planks – a common feature found in early Richibucto houses. The front door has sidelights as well as a fanlight. The house’s windows were recently replaced but the original fenestration remains the same.
The interior retains much of its older or original detail. This comprises almost all of the woodwork such as the doors, the door and window frames, the panels underneath the bay windows and the baseboards. The old lock with its wooden case is still found attached on the inside of the front door.
The house’s floor plan consists essentially of a central hall that is flanked by two rooms on both sides. The two existing fireplaces, located in each of the two front rooms, apparently replaced the original fireplaces in 1937.
The original part of the house is of upright plank construction. That is to say, its walls consist of a solid row of vertical three-inch thick planks that are set side by side. This type of construction is commonly found in the older houses of Richibucto. The building’s rafters are axe hewn as are the joists of the main floor. A trim in the framing of the floor of the rear ell indicates the original presence of a cooking fireplace.
The ell at the rear of the building was added a few years after the erection of the main house. The ell still retains its two dormers which are both located on the south slope of the roof.
According to oral tradition, the house was built by Lestock Peach Wilson DesBrisay (1820-1872), one of the most influential merchants of Richibucto in the 19th century. This would have been around 1841, the year he purchased the property and the same year he married. DesBrisay owned a store and was involved in the exportation of lumber and merchandise. He was also involved in shipbuilding. He owned two sawmills, one located in Richibucto and the other in the neighbouring town of Rexton. DesBrisay also represented Kent County in the Legislature of New Brunswick between 1855 and 1867 and was one of the principal figures responsible for the province’s entering into Canada’s Confederation.
Another tradition, however, says that the house was built in 1832. If such is the case, it would have been built by Joseph Cunard, brother of Samuel Cunard of the renowned Cunard Lines shipbuilders. Supporting this version is the fact that Cunard purchased the property in 1831.
The house was later in the possession of two generations of tinsmiths, from 1872 to 1925. Zaccheus Phinney and his son Robert Phinney operated a tinsmith shop that was located at the south east corner of the property, on Main Street.
Sources : Richibucto Town Hall - Richibucto Historic Places files; Centre d'études acadiennes Anselme-Chiasson, Université de Moncton
The character-defining elements of the Lestock DesBrisay House include:
- the rectangular plan of the single-storey building;
- the overall symmetry;
- the low-pitched hip roof;
- the original fenestration;
- the fanlight and sidelights of the front door;
- the old front door lock with its wooden case;
- the original interior woodwork ;
- the overhead arches of the central hall;
- the upright plank walls;
- the brick walls of the cellar;
- the original interior plaster walls ;
- the brick chimneys;
- the axe hewn rafters and main floor joists of the original house;
- the ell with its cooking fireplace floor trim.