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Brett House and Outbuildings

Joe Batt's Arm-Barr'd Islands-Shoal Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0G, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/10/02

Exterior view of front facade, Brett House, Joe Batt's Arm, NL.; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 2005
Brett House (Joe Batt's Arm, NL)
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1870/01/01 to 1879/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/02/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Brett House consists of a two and one half storey wooden house with a steep gable roof and two and one half storey central tower, built as an addition to a two storey wooden house with a mid pitch roof and one storey linhay. Built between the 1870s and 1913, the property is located at 36 Brown’s Point, Joe Batt’s Arm, NL. The designation includes the house, two outbuildings and fencing.

Heritage Value

The Brett House and Outbuildings have been designated because of their aesthetic, cultural and historical values.

The Brett House has aesthetic value as it is a representative example of the types of houses built during the period in the Notre Dame Bay area, as well as being a good example of the detailed craftsmanship often employed by vernacular builders in Newfoundland and Labrador. The scale and massing of the section built by John Brett in the 1870s would have been common in the community at that time. When John’s son Charles took possession of the home, he moved the house across the street and added an entire new home to the older one. This addition mimics the original in its symmetry and orderliness, but also speaks to the craftsmanship of the younger Brett, who hand-cut each shingle used to clad the exterior walls of the house. These scalloped shingles were a common element in homes built in the region during the same period. A central front tower serves as an indication of Charles’ design preferences as well as marking the evolution of housing styles in the region.

Enhancing the aesthetic value is the context in which the house is situated. The building exists in a very traditional Newfoundland setting, with outbuildings in close proximity and fencing surrounding the property. There are very few examples of original outport homes with the majority of their outbuildings still remaining. Outbuildings on the Brett property, which include a shed or “store” and a cellar, were designed for practical use, employing rough materials, simple design elements and utilitarian construction techniques.

The Brett House and Outbuildings have cultural value as they are physical reminders of an earlier time and place. The superior folk craftsmanship evident in the exterior finishing is reflective of a people who took great pride in their properties and used them as a means of creative expression.

The proximity to the shoreline highlights the importance of the ocean to the livelihood of the community’s residents. The outbuildings are reminders of a subsistence economy which demanded that food be stored for both animal and human consumption. Most properties also had extensive fences as livestock were free to roam communities in the summertime. Regulations regarding roaming livestock and a decline in the number of families raising animals has resulted in such fences disappearing from the landscape.

The Brett House is historically valuable as a physical example of way of life that saw people make great use of the resources available to them. Between 1909 and 1913, Charles Brett recycled on older, smaller home while in the process of building his own family home. Such reuse of materials was not uncommon in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, where new building materials were not always readily available without expending great personal time and effort.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property designation file M-051-004, Joe Batt’s Arm - Brett House

Character-Defining Elements

Those elements that define the building's vernacular design including:
-distinct form and architectural details of the two distinct house types;
-number of storeys;
-mid pitch roof on older section;
-steep gable roof on addition;
-wooden roof shingles;
-boxed eave returns;
-heart motifs drops on addition;
-mock exposed roof beams on addition;
-narrow clapboard on older section and rear of addition;
-scalloped and sawtooth shingle sheathing on addition;
-corner boards;
-window size, style, trim and placement;
-six paned coloured glass windows;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors;
-size, style, trim and placement of windows and door in front tower;
-pedimented shelf with bargeboard decoration above door in front tower;
-pedimented shelf above linhay door;
-size, style, trim and location of open porch on front facade;
-location of linhay on older section;
-original size, style and placement of chimneys;
-stone pile with bracing foundation;
-dimension, location and orientation of building.

Those pertaining to the outbuildings and fences include:
-original form, scale and massing of outbuildings;
-original roof types;
-original roofing material;
-narrow clapboard;
-corner boards;
-window size, style, trim and placement;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors;
-style and placement of hardware on doors;
-red ochre exterior colour;
-dimension, location and orientation of outbuildings; and,
-original style, placement and white finish of fences.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer



John Brett

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street St. John's, NL A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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