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W. A. Chesley Residence

226 Douglas Avenue, Saint John, New Brunswick, E2K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/03/18

This photograph provides a contextual view of the building on Douglas Avenue, 2006; City of Saint John
W. A. Chesley Residence - Contextual view
This image provides a view of the wood cornice supported by a series of paired and single brackets, 2006; City of Saint John
W. A. Chesley Residence - Cornice
This image provides a view of the entrance including the stained glass transom window over paired wood doors with glass panels, 2006; City of Saint John
W. A. Chesley Residence - Entrance

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/04/09

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.

Heritage Value

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

Character-Defining Elements

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.



New Brunswick

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NB)

Recognition Statute

Municipal Heritage Preservation Act, s.5(1)

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Preservation Act

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


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



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Planning and Development Department - City of Saint John

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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