Home / Accueil

Sunnyside Municipal Heritage Site

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/04/25

Exterior view of 070 Circular Road, showing main dwelling house.; City of St. John's 2006.
070 Circular Road, St. John's, NL.
Exterior view of main facade 070 Circular Road, the Sunnyside House, main dwelling.  View shows east wing and central pavilion with glass roof bay.  Photo taken looking north, March 15, 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006.
070 Circular Road, St. John's, NL.
Exterior view of 070 Circular Road Coach House located a the rear of the dwelling house, behind the west wing.  Photo taken March 15, 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006.
070 Circular Road, Coach House, St. John's, NL.

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1846/01/01 to 1872/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/06/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

070 Circular Road, St. John’s, known locally as Sunnyside, is an excellent extant example of a 19th century estate with a house, gardens and outbuildings. Located on historic Circular Road, Sunnyside is surrounded on all sides by merchant and upper class houses in old St. John’s. The designation encompasses the entire property, including the Victorian Gothic house, Coach House and surrounding land with mature trees, delineated by a fence.

Heritage Value

070 Circular Road, Sunnyside, has been designated a Municipal Heritage Site because it holds aesthetic, historic and environmental values.

070 Circular Road, Sunnyside is aesthetically valuable because it is an excellent surviving example of a mid to late 19th century estate located in old St. John’s. This property, consisting of a dwelling house and a coach house are situated on a large country-like piece of land with mature trees. The buildings are constructed of wood and feature typical Victorian Gothic elements. The dwelling house, located at 70 Circular Road at the western end of the property, was built in three parts. The central portion is a gable roofed building with a 5-sided porch at the main entrance, and it was built first in 1846. The next owners extended this building by adding east and west wings in the 1880s. This house maintains most of its original fabric and features wooden, double hung, multi-paned windows, peaked dormer windows and glass roof bay windows, as well as multiple chimneys.

Sunnyside Coach House resembles the dwelling house very closely and it is situated directly behind the house at 070 Circular Road. The coach house, constructed to hold the horses and coach of the original owners, is designed in the Victorian Gothic style of architecture. The steeply pitched gable roof is punctuated by a central front peak, dormer windows and a peaked cupola. The front of this large building has several sets of wide barn doors with transoms. The central gable bay has a rectangular window, an upper loft door and the eaves are decorated with bargeboard. This building is quite decorative for a utilitarian structure.

Sunnyside has historical value because of its associations with its notable owners. The original owner, John O’Mara, came to Newfoundland sometime between 1831-1845 from Waterford, Ireland and established an extensive mercantile firm. At his main premises on Water Street he dealt in general merchandise, including liquor. As a ship owner he was involved primarily in the seal fishery and like many other merchants he was active in politics. A Liberal, he was at one time the campaign secretary for John Kent. Concerned for the welfare of the poor he worked through the Benevolent Irish Society. In 1847 O’Mara was Commissioner of Roads for St. John’s and District Health Warden. He was Justice of the Peace for the central district of the city in 1853.

Sunnyside was purchased by Scottish born James Murray in 1872 and it was Murray who made additions to the property as it stands today. James Murray operated one of the largest fishery supply firms in Newfoundland, was involved in Island politics and was known as “an exceedingly clever writer”. Murray died at his St. John’s residence, Sunnyside, on January 16, 1900. He was the father of Andrew H. Murray who eventually became an influential fisheries supplier and who formed a commission agency and importing firm. Sunnyside is owned and lived in by members of the Murray family today.

Sunnyside has environmental value because the property consists of a large area surrounded by mature trees. The neighbourhood has evolved over time and most properties have much smaller lots as land was gradually subdivided and sold for building lots. Sunnyside has maintained its original country-like setting in the heart of old St. John’s and it takes up nearly an entire city block. It is bordered at the front and rear by the city streets Empire Avenue, which was the former Newfoundland Railway track, and Circular Road and on each end by private property.

Source: Designated at a regular meeting of the St. John's Municipal council held April 25, 2006, minutes SJMC2006-04-25/252R.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that define the Victorian Gothic dwelling house, including:
-steeply pitched gable roofs;
-multiple chimneys;
-bay windows with fascia boards;
-5-sided porch;
-narrow, wooden clapboard;
-glass-roofed ground level bay windows;
-all trim, pilasters, corner boards;
-peaked dormer windows;
-double hung windows with mullions; and
-all window and door openings.

All those elements that define the Victorian Gothic Coach House, including:
-steeply pitched gable roof with central gable bay;
-large barn doors with transoms;
-loft door in gable bay;
-all windows;
-peaked cupola;
-narrow wooden clapboard;
-bargeboard; and
-location behind main dwelling house.

All those elements that define the property as a whole estate, including:
-location on a large parcel of land in original configuration;
-spatial relation of house to outbuildings; and
-large mature lot with trees.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

City of St. John's

Recognition Statute

City of St. John's Act

Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

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

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places