B. R. Stevenson's Office Building
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
B. R. Stevenson’s Office Building is an Italianate-inspired vernacular, two-storey, wooden public building in a front-facing gable plan with high perpendicular windows. It is located on Water Street in downtown St. Andrews.
B. R. Stevenson’s Office Building is designated a Local Historic Place for its association with Benjamin Robert Stevenson and for the role the building has played in the development of St. Andrews and the province of New Brunswick. The building is also recognized as being the meeting place for St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge for the past 80 years as well as for its simple but characteristic Victorian-era architecture.
B. R. Stevenson’s Office Building was built prior to 1878 as an office building for Benjamin Robert Stevenson and as a Customs House. St. Andrews was an important Customs town due to its role as a seaport and its close proximity to the United States. Many important political and economical decisions were created in this building for the Town of St. Andrews and the Province of New Brunswick.
Benjamin Robert Stevenson was born in St. Andrews in 1835 and graduated from King’s College in Fredericton in 1854. He was called to the New Brunswick Bar Association in 1859 and set up his practice at St. Andrews. In 1863 he was appointed Registrar of Probate for Charlotte County. He was a strong supporter of Confederation and was elected into the Legislature in 1868. In 1871 he became Attorney General of New Brunswick and later Surveyor General. He had an integral part in creating the Common Schools Act in 1872. He played a leading role in the development of St. Andrews as a summer resort and supported the St. Andrews Hotel Act which incorporated a company to build a large new hotel. The present building was once connected to Stevenson Hall and one could enter the hall from this building. Many important meetings were held in the hall, such as the meetings of the St. Andrews Land Company, a group of Americans, supported by Mr. Stevenson and Sir Leonard Tiley, who proposed to build cottages of modern American style and engage others to build hotels. The famed Algonquin Hotel originated from these meetings.
Mr. Stevenson played a leading role in developing the small Scottish and Irish settlements around Charlotte County and piloted the Free Grants Act through legislature in 1871 which provided free grants of land to new settlers. He was also a shareholder and director of the New Brunswick and Canada Railroad and assisted in getting railroad legislation through the House of Assembly.
Mr. Stevenson passed away in 1890 and his family continued to own this building, leasing out office space, until they sold it to St. Mark’s Lodge in 1929, who still meet here today. Mr. Stevenson himself had joined St. Mark’s Lodge at a young age and held the office of Worshipful Master for three separate terms. The lodge, created in 1846, is one of the oldest in New Brunswick. In the 1960’s a storm caused the chimney to topple and damage the roof, uncovering B. R. Stevenson’s legal papers and the old Custom House reports. The collection was donated to the Charlotte County Historic Society from St. Mark’s Lodge and led to the foundation of the Charlotte County Archives.
B. R. Stevenson’s Office Building is also recognized for its architecture. The Italianate-inspired vernacular architecture of this public building is simple and functional, yet enhanced by its wonderful array of windows. A total of 90 panes on the front façade supply the interior with much natural light.
Source: Charlotte County Archives – Old Gaol, St. Andrews, New Brunswick – St. Andrews Historic Places File, “B. R. Stevenson’s Office Building”
The character-defining elements of B. R. Stevenson’s Office Building include:
- two-storey rectangular massing;
- window placement and proportions;
- high, wood framed, perpendicular windows with rounded heads;
- cornice over lower storey;
- large eave returns;
- wood cladding;
- central entranceway;
- front-facing gable roof.
Local Governments (NB)
Local Historic Places Program
Municipal Register of Local Historic Places
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Politics and Political Processes
- Peopling the Land
- Migration and Immigration
Function - Category and Type
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
- Office or office building
- Customs Building
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Charlotte County Archives - Old Gaol, St. Andrews, New Brunswick
Cross-Reference to Collection