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Geehan Building Municipal Heritage Building

Conception Bay South, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/03/06

Geehan Building before restoration, known as Dunn's Den at one time.  Photo taken March 2005.; Steve Mills/ HFNL 2007
Geehan Building, Topsail, CBS
Front facade, Geehan Building, overlooking Conception Bay.  Tavern located at the side.  Photo taken October 2006.; Kim Barnes/ HFNL 2007
Geehan Building, Topsail, CBS
Side facade, Geehan Building, showing public entrance to tavern and parking lot.  Photo taken October 2006.; Kim Barnes/ HFNL 2007
Geehan Building, Topsail, CBS

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1880/01/01 to 1890/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Geehan Building is a 19th century wooden, two-storey commercial-residential building located on a large, mature lot with a parking lot at one side. The building is situated on a hilltop bend on the main road through the community of Conception Bay South and overlooks Conception Bay and Bell Island. The Municipal Heritage Designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Geehan Building is designated a Municipal Heritage Building because it has historic and aesthetic values.

The Geehan Building holds historic value as an early example of a commercial-residential property in Conception Bay South. The property was built in Topsail in the late 1800s as a residential property for the Geehan family, who were agricultural farmers in the region. In 1910 the Geehans converted their home into a boarding house and tearoom and received license to serve beer and liquor. While the Geehan family continued to operate their farm and live in the house, they opened the main floor of the house to the general public and the second floor to boarders. J. Geehan Teas and Board, as the property was then known, became a tourist accommodation for those who were visiting nearby Topsail and Topsail Beach.

The Geehan Building also has historic value because it contributes to a sense of time and place. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was a common practice for city dwellers to vacation in the nearby communities that comprise Conception Bay South. It would have been a long journey by horse or train and many summer residents made a second home in the area. For those who did not have such a luxury, and for those who were passing through, J. Geehan Teas and Board offered a place to stay in an ideal location, situated in close proximity to popular Topsail Beach. The availability of spirits and beer, as well as teas and a dining room also provided tourists a commercial destination. The boarding house was closed in the 1950s; however, a tavern continues to be run from the property. According to the locals, the tavern has had at least eight different names, including its present: Topsail Breeze Tavern.

The Geehan Building has aesthetic value as a good surviving example of 19th century vernacular architecture. The building is a two-storey, rectangular wooden structure with a low-pitch gable roof and a modern extension on one side. The property has undergone several changes throughout its history, but its original footprint, shape and size are still visible. Furthermore, this biscuit-box shape is a traditional and historic Newfoundland design fast disappearing from its communities. The windows and doors are in the same locations as they were originally and the building is still oriented towards picturesque Conception Bay and Topsail Beach.

Source: Town of Conception Bay South, regular council meeting March 6, 2007 #07-096

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that relate to the original architectural design and historic location, including:
- 2 storey, wooden construction;
- low-pitch gable roof;
- dimensions and location;
- orientation towards Topsail Road, Topsail Beach and Conception Bay;
- location near historic Topsail Beach
- continued use as a local tavern.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conception Bay South Heritage Advisory Committee, 106 Conception Bay Highway, Conception Bay South, NL, A1W 3A5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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