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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Murray Premises comprise of three former warehouses associated with the Newfoundland fisheries industry. They are located between Harbour Drive and Water Street and form the major portion of an entire city block and have been rehabilitated to serve as shops and a hotel. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building complex.
The Murray Premises were designated a municipal heritage building, structure or land because they have historic, cultural and aesthetic values.
The Murray Premises are historically significant because of their association with the mercantile activities tied to the fisheries industry of Newfoundland. Originally, the buildings were a group of connected warehouses constructed in 1846, from which salt cod was exported and provisions were imported. They are the oldest collection of mercantile buildings in the province related to the fishing industry.
The Murray Premises are also historically significant because of their association with Richard O’Dwyer, the original owner, and Andrew H. Murray, for whom the building is named. O’Dwyer was a prominent Waterford merchant who built a block of buildings near the Murray Premises, for his offices and retail stores, with enough space for other merchants. Both blocks were constructed at the same time, after the St. John’s fire of 1846.
Andrew H. Murray, grandson of James Murray of Perth, Scotland, occupied the buildings his family had previously occupied. James Murray was responsible for of the most successful of the Water Street firms of the 20th century, having already established himself as one of the principal players of the mercantile trade. Andrew H., along with his brother David, incorporated the firm A.H. Murray and Company in 1918. Together, Andrew and David created one of the most successful fishery and general supply businesses on the Island. They were heavily involved in the Labrador Fishery; they had an industrial division and eventually a building supply division. The company still operates today under the name Murray Industrial.
The Murray Premises has cultural value because it is a significant reminder of the once thriving fishing industry which operated from the St. John’s wharves. It is reminiscent of a time and place whereby significant achievements were fulfilled by 19th and 20th century merchants. The Murray Premises signify a culture that exists no more.
The Murray Premises has aesthetic value because it is a great collection of mercantile warehouses and buildings which remain largely unchanged in form. The harbour side shows various buildings, connected wall to wall. The primary warehouse has a gambrel roof with peaked dormers lined up along the roofline. Long, slender windows cover all facades, indicating the original commercial nature of the structure, yet the façade has a slight Georgian feel to it. The windows feature shaped lintels with extended sills. The central windows are wide, as are the street front windows, broken up by brick buttresses.
The buildings are connected in a U-shaped configuration and a central courtyard paved with bricks is accessible through Water Street. The interiors of the structures bear original post and beam construction, plainly visible and in original condition.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John’s, NL, A1C 5V5
All those elements that embody the commercial nature of the 19th and 20th century Newfoundland fisheries buildings, including:
- the location with direct access to the waterfront;
- the spatial relationship of the buildings to each other and to the harbour; and
- regular fenestration with larger openings for loading.
All those original architectural details of the downtown St. John's 19th century structure, including:
- the rectangular 21/2 to 3 storey massing of the buildings under flat or pitched roofs;
- the original rubble masonry and timber construction materials;
- surviving dressed stone facing and white stucco finish;
- surviving examples of original post and beam construction method and brick nogging; and
- minimal exterior detailing except for end quoins.
Newfoundland and Labrador
City of St. John's
City of St. John's Act
City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street, St. John’s Newfoundland,
Cross-Reference to Collection