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Phelps-Austin House

159, Moffatt, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/07/12

Phelps-Austin House on Moffatt Street, overlooking the former Second Welland Canal; City of St. Catharines, 2004
Phelps-Austin House
Rear view of the Phelps-Austin House c.1875; City of St. Catharines, 2004
Phelps-Austin House
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2014/05/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Phelps-Austin House, built circa 1875, is a roughly rectangular two-storey house with a one-storey wing at the rear, situated in a prominent location in St. Catharines overlooking the former Second Welland Canal on Moffat Street. Each façade is arranged in an assymetrical, picturesque fashion, and the house features a high, cross gabled roof, highly carved bargeboard, and segmentally arched windows. The house is designated under By-law 82-175.

Heritage Value

The house is associated with the well-respected Phelps family, whose members played a significant role in the development of the Welland Canal and in the growth of important canal industries. Noah Phelps (1828-1900), the first owner of the house who acquired the land in 1874, moved to Canada with father Samuel, to join Oliver Phelps, a main contractor of the First Welland Canal with William Hamilton Merritt. Noah Phelps and brother Orson owned a lumber mill in 1870 on a site that the house overlooks near Moffatt Street, and organized the Lincoln Paper Mills in 1877 (later Domtar Fine Papers Limited), a major industrial organization highly responsible for Merritton's development. Noah Phelps also operated a blacksmith shop near Lock 11 in 1877 and was widely known throughout Ontario as a Methodist lay preacher and founder of the Grimsby Camp Ground in 1874.

The house was remained in the Phelps family's possession until 1914 when the Carmelite Sisters of Canada set up an orphanage for European refugee children during World War I. The house remained in the hands of the Sisters until 1928, and the house was later subdivided and served as a multiple dwelling.

The house's remarkable design and sheer size contributes to its heritage value and prominent appearance. The two-storey frame house is asymmetrically arranged in a 'picturesque' fashion, with original clapboard exposed on the building's exterior. The house includes a one-storey wing to the rear and a high, cross gabled roof trimmed by boxed cornices with sloping soffits. The front façade displays an off-centre gable above evenly spaced windows an off-centre front entrance, and a projecting one-storey, half-hexagon bay window in the centre of the wall. The north gable retains its highly carved bargeboard that once decorated the house's high gables. Double hung wood sash windows are segmentally arched and have unique window trim with a heavily moulded architrave. The jamb casing has a distinctive flare at the top and bottoms, and the gables feature circular stained glass windows.

The building is located on a site on Moffat Street, overlooking the former Second Welland Canal. Its proximity to the canal and other industrial activity indicates the role of the canal in not only industrial development, but in settlement patterns as well.

Sources: Notice of the Passing of By-Law 82-175, Corporation of the City of St. Catharines, 1982;
159 Moffat Street Heritage File, City of St. Catharines, 1982; Phelps-Austin House, City of St. Catharines, 2004

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that reflect the heritage value of Phelps-Austin House include:
- association with Noah Phelps, prominent community member, lumber mill owner, organizer of Lincoln Paper Mills (later Domtar Fine Papers Limited), blacksmith and Methodist lay preacher
- association with Carmelite Sisters of Canada, and function as an orphanage for European refugee children during WWI
- location on Moffatt Street, overlooking the Second Welland Canal and the valley where Phelps operated his lumber mill
- two storey frame with one storey wing to the rear
- north gable which still retains the highly carved, decorative bargeboard
- assymetrical arrangement of each façade in a picturesque fashion
- high cross gabled roof
- double hung wood sash windows, two lights over two with the top of the sash heads being segmentally arched
- unique window trim with a heavily moulded architrave and jamb casing with distinctive flare
- original interior woodwork largely intact
- projecting one storey half hexagon bay window on the east (front) façade




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling
Group Residence
Multiple Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Planning Services 50 Church Street St. Catharines, ON L2R 7C2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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