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West End Mercantile Establishment

Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2005/05/07

Exterior view of the front facade of the duplex at 161-163 Water Street, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, taken summer 2004, prior to restoration.; HFNL 2005
161-163 Water Street, Harbour Grace
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/06/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The West End Mercantile Building is a two and one half storey, steeply pitched gable roofed duplex located at 161-163 Water Street, Harbour Grace, at the edge of the harbour. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The West End Mercantile Building was designated a Registered Heritage Structure because it has historic, aesthetic and environmental values.

The West End Mercantile Building has historic value because of its age. Built in 1853 by Clement Noel this house has changed little over time. It is the oldest row house in Harbour Grace. The building was constructed as a two and one half storey duplex, with the potential of carrying on a mercantile business from it. It has long been associated with the mercantile and fish trades and locally known merchants Clement Noel and Eli Frost.

It is also historically valuable because it has survived several devastating town fires, one of which came dangerously close to the house. Indeed, this house utilizes brick nogging, and once enjoyed a reputation in Harbour Grace as being greatly fire resistant.

The West End Mercantile Building is aesthetically valuable because it is an excellent early example of vernacular construction in Harbour Grace. It has a steeply pitched gable roof with two large chimneys protruding through the ridge at each end. These chimneys form central hearths inside each dwelling. This duplex is plainly decorated, as was typical for vernacular buildings in the area. The front façade features two long, rectangular windows at one side and a single square window on the other, while two doors flank the middle. The window styles vary and they have wide, flat mouldings with small shelves. This variance suggests that one side was used as a commercial space, while the other appears to be residential.

The West End Mercantile Building is environmentally valuable because it is located along Harbour Grace’s commercial district, at the edge of the harbour. Since most early Harbour Grace business was conducted in this location it was a strategic advantage to have a mercantile business there.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador unnumbered property file – Harbour Grace – West End Mercantile Buildings

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that relate to the vernacular mercantile duplex construction, including:
-steeply pitched gable roof;
-window sizes and fenestrations;
-door placements and openings;
-brick wall construction;
-central hearths with above the ridge chimneys;
-wide, flat window mouldings; and
-general massing, height and orientation.



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



Multiple Dwelling

Architect / Designer



Clement Noel

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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