Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Built in 1875, the W. A. Chesley Residence is a wooden two-and-a-half storey Second Empire building with a mansard roof, veranda and a carriage port. It is located on Douglas Avenue within the Douglas Avenue Preservation Area of Saint John.
The W. A. Chesley Residence is designated a Local Historic Place for its location, for its architecture and for its association with its former occupants.
The W. A. Chesley Residence is recognized as a part of the Douglas Avenue Preservation Area. Douglas Avenue Preservation Area was recognized as a protected historic streetscape because of its fine mixture of working class tenements along with more substantial homes of the middle and wealthy classes, many of which have long-standing family connections spanning multiple generations as a result of its community atmosphere. Douglas Avenue was built in the mid 1850's to connect Main Street with the newly constructed suspension bridge at Reversing Falls. This area was formerly a part of the City of Portland before that city amalgamated with Saint John in 1889. Designed by architect David E. Dunham, the W. A. Chesley Residence is an excellent example of Second Empire residential architecture within this district.
The W. A. Chesley Residence is also recognized for its association with William Alonzo Chesley and his family. W. A. Chesley had this residence constructed in 1875. A native of Hillsborough, Albert County, he established an iron foundry in 1862, in partnership with his brother, John A. Together, they formed the firm of J. A. and W. A. Chesley. The company focused on the manufacture of iron knees for wooden schooners and barques. During the ship building boom of Saint John in the mid 1800s, their business remained prosperous and the two brothers became widely known as “captains of industry”. In addition to this, he and his brother heavily involved themselves in local politics. He served as an alderman in the town council of Portland. Following the amalgamation, he represented Ward 2 of Portland while his brother John, represented Ward 1. After this political experience, John received an appointment as Canada’s Commercial Agent in South Africa. William left Saint John in 1895 to establish a general contracting business in British Columbia. The Douglas Avenue residence still remained in the family. His son and daughter continued to live at the Chesley homestead. Fifteen years later, William tragically died while fighting a forest fire in Kesley County, B.C. His widow, Mary A. Chesely, retained ownership of the house until 1914, when she handed the house over to her daughter Edith and her husband, Donald Pidgeon. This Douglas Avenue residence continued to be associated with the Chesley family until 1922.
Source: Planning and Development Department - City of Saint John
The character-defining elements that describe the W. A. Chesley Residence include:
- rectangular two-and-a-half storey massing;
- mansard roof;
- clapboard siding;
- dormers encasing double, vertical sliding wood windows;
- cornice supported by a series of paired and single wooden brackets;
- vertical sliding, second storey wood windows with decorative wood entablatures;
- vertical sliding, first storey wood windows with wooden, segmented arched entablatures;
- wooden window sills;
- full length veranda ornamented by dentils and supported by paired Doric columns with a stone bases;
- stained glass transom window with ornate tracery over paired wooden doors with glass panels;
- carriage port.
Local Governments (NB)
Municipal Heritage Preservation Act, s.5(1)
Municipal Heritage Preservation Act
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Governing Canada
- Politics and Political Processes
Function - Category and Type
- Multiple Dwelling
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
David E. Dunham
Location of Supporting Documentation
Planning and Development Department - City of Saint John
Cross-Reference to Collection