Description of Historic Place
The Hon. George E. King Residence is a brick two-and-a-half storey Second Empire building with a mansard roof and two two-storey bay windows on the front façade. It is located on Orange Street, within the Orange Street Preservation Area of the City of Saint John.
The Hon. George E. King Residence is designated a Local Historic Place for its architecture and for its association with its former occupants.
The Hon. George E. King Residence is recognized as one of a collection of residential and commercial Italianate and Second Empire buildings that were built between 1877 and 1881 after two thirds of the City of Saint John were destroyed by fire in 1877. Built in 1882 for Hon. George E. King, this residence is an example of brick Second Empire residential architecture from the rebuilding period in the Orange Street Heritage Preservation Area of Saint John following the fire. The use of brick and the design of this building represent the will of the city to rebuild, as well or better, after the fire and sent a message that the city would be more resistant to fire in the future.
The Hon. George E. King Residence is also recognized for its association with two prominent Saint John citizens, the Hon. George E. King and George McAvity. Born in 1837 in Saint John, King was the son of a prominent ship builder. He was admitted to the bar in 1863 and became a barrister in 1865. In 1873, he was named Queen’s Council. A strong supporter of Confederation, he acted as a candidate for the City of Saint John in the first Confederation election. His campaign proved successful and he was elected with Joseph Coran. He received an appointment to government in 1869. Soon after, he rose to Attorney General and by 1872 he was made premier of New Brunswick until 1878. During this time, he inaugurated highly significant pieces of legislation, including the passage of the free school system. In 1880, he was appointed as the judge over York and Carleton Counties in the Supreme Court of New Brunswick. This appointment lasted until 1893, when he was transferred to the Supreme Court of Canada. King left his Orange Street residence when he moved to Ottawa in the same year.
George McAvity, another highly prominent Saint John citizen, took up residency at this address in 1897. He was the son of Thomas A. McAvity, a former Saint John Mayor and founder of the firm T. McAvity & Sons, Ltd. This large, Maritime-based business involved the manufacture, retail and wholesale of hardware such as valves and fittings. Initially a clerk in his father’s business, he was admitted into partnership in 1888 and in 1910 became president of the firm. The business experienced a huge boom during the First World War, as it altered its focus to producing ammunition for the British Army, and later, the United States Military. The business continued to expand and branches opened in Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. In addition to his business, he was involved in other sectors of Saint John life. He served as president of the Pulp and Paper Company and the Maritime Manufacturing Corporation, as well as director of Standard Clay Products Co., Ltd. and the Eastern Trust Company. He owned the Saint John Daily Telegraph for a number of years with John E. Moore until 1923. McAvity remained at this Orange Street residence until 1928.
Source: Planning and Development Department - City of Saint John
The character defining elements that describe the Hon. George E. King Residence include:
- symmetrical two-and-a-half storey massing;
- mansard roof;
- brick exterior walls;
- gable dormers with Roman arched windows;
- cornice with corbel band;
- symmetrical two-storey bays on the front façade;
- tall, narrow, second storey bay windows with decorative brickwork and keystones;
- tall, narrow first storey bay windows with segmented arch lintels, decorative brickwork, and keystones;
- triple brick band along the second storey;
- decorative brickwork in spandrel panel over the entry;
- segmented arch entry with keystone;
- segmented arched transom window;
- double doors with wood and glass panels;
- sandstone steps.