Old Manse Library
Bibliothèque de l'ancien presbytère
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Beaverbrook House consists of a three-storey Second Empire style wood frame clapboarded building built in 1877. It is located on a parcel of land on Mary Street and King George Highway in the City of Miramichi.
Beaverbrook House is designated a Provincial Historic Site for its architecture and its association with the occupants.
Beaverbrook House is a distinguished structure of the Second Empire style that illustrates the importance given to the architecture and material richness of an upper-class private residence during the Victorian era. The orientation of the residence on a sloping lot that fronts the street and town centre creates an impressive public image. Built in 1877, this dwelling was designed for local Shipbuilder William Watt by David E. Dunham, a prominent Saint John architect of the 1870s and 1880s. The Second Empire style is reflected in the tell-tale mansard roof, elaborate exterior adornments and overall asymmetry of the building.
In 1880, Rev. William Aitken moved into the house as it became the manse for St. James Presbyterian Parish. It became the boyhood home of Sir Maxwell Aitken, known later on as Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964). He became a distinguished businessman and politician in Britain and a noted philanthropist in Canada. The house was purchased by Lord Beaverbrook in 1952, who presented it to the Town of Newcastle as a public library. In 1974, the Town of Newcastle erected a plaque commemorating the work of Miss Louise Manny. She was a historian, author, collector of Miramichi folk songs and librarian at the Beaverbrook House (then called the Old Manse Library) from 1953 to 1967. The Beaverbrook House is now a museum and office building for heritage and educational groups.
Source: Wellness, Culture and Sport, Heritage Branch, File # 12825, 51
The character-defining elements that describe the location of Beaverbrook House include:
- deep sloping front lawn;
- formal frontal orientation to the street and town centre.
The character-defining elements that describe the Second Empire architecture of Beaverbrook House include:
- mansard roof;
- hip dormers at the second floor and gabled dormers at the upper floor;
- rectangular massing;
- decorative brackets;
- asymmetrical projecting window bays;
- elaborate cut sandstone coursed ashlar foundation walls;
- eastern side displaying large graffiti labelled “W MAX AITKEN”, carved probably by the young Lord Beaverbrook.
The character-defining elements that describe the interior of Beaverbrook House include:
- front stair hall leading to a large formal side parlour;
- office and library;
- former rear kitchen and upstairs bedrooms, all of which exhibiting original wide plaster crown mouldings, wood trim, and wood doors;
- ornamental woodwork throughout the main floor parlour;
- stained wood newel post, curved railings and banisters running the full three stories of the house;
- etched glass windows in the front doors and side transoms;
- coal burning fireplaces in the main floor principal rooms featuring glazed coloured tile hearths, and a carved purple slate mantle in the parlour;
- small kitchen pass-through at the main stair’s second floor landing;
- ceiling and upper wall free-hand decoration throughout the parlour, painted in 1921 by Charles MacKenzie (1846-1935).
Province of New Brunswick
Historic Sites Protection Act, s. 2(2)
Historic Sites Protection Act – Protected
1974/01/01 to 1974/01/01
1879/01/01 to 1964/01/01
1952/01/01 to 1952/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Social Movements
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
David E. Dunham
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Branch - Site File
Cross-Reference to Collection