Description of Historic Place
This two-and-a-half storey structure, located on Shore Street in a residential area of Fredericton’s downtown plat, was the childhood home of the internationally acclaimed poet, Bliss Carman. Though situated on the south side of Shore Street, the front of this dwelling faces away from the street. When Colonel George Shore had the middle portion of this wood frame structure built, which dates from about 1840, the house was intended to face a proposed new road. That the location of Shore Street changed after this house was built explains the apparently “backwards” orientation of Bliss Carman House.
Bliss Carman (1861-1929), internationally acclaimed poet, spent his childhood in this house on Shore Street, now known as Bliss Carman House. Educated in Fredericton, Bliss Carman attended the Collegiate School and the University of New Brunswick. This house has heritage value as the famed poet penned many of his early works in the family home. Literary prowess ran in the family; Bliss Carman’s mother, Sophia (Bliss) Carman was a descendent of noted New England poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
William Carman, Bliss Carman’s father, represented Northumberland County in the House of Assembly from 1846-1851, and moved to Fredericton at the end of his term. Mr. Carman had been appointed Clerk of the Common Pleas for York County and the Registrar of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick. William Carman purchased this house in the 1860's, in which he raised his family, and resided at 83 Shore Street until his death in 1885. Mr. Carman was remembered, upon his death, as the oldest barrister in the province, having been admitted in 1828.
This house remained in the family when Bliss Carman’s cousin, Frederick St. John Bliss, assumed ownership in the first decade of the 20th century. Before this house was sold in 1965, the Carman and Bliss families retained ownership of this house for nearly a century.
The heritage value of this house also resides in its unique orientation upon the street. The side of the house that fronts upon Shore Street is in fact the rear exposure of this structure. Colonel George Shore had the middle portion of this house constructed in anticipation of a new road, which was not completed. The present street was named in honour of Colonel George Shore, a member of the 104th Regiment. Because the house predated the street upon which it stands, the change in street location essentially reversed the orientation of the house. This reversal hides the beauty of the “front” of the house.
Source: City of Fredericton Historic Places Files, “Bliss Carman House, 83 Shore Street”
The character-defining elements associated with Bliss Carman House include:
- its unique, reversed orientation upon Shore street;
- manicured lawn;
- two-and-a-half storey wood frame structure;
- variety of roof lines;
- gable ends facing the street;
- pink and yellow diamond-patterned stained glass, surmounted by decorative initials “WC” adorning the Shore Street entrance;
- elaborately carved wood fireplace mantel on main level.
The character-defining elements associated with the exterior of the structure facing away from Shore Street include:
- regularly-spaced, rectangular window openings;
- two pediment dormer windows on the middle portion of structure;
- portico extending the length of the structure;
- French doors.