58 King Street
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
58 King Street is a 4-storey, brick, Italianate commercial building. It is located on King Street, in the Trinity Royal area of the City of Saint John.
58 King Street, also known as the Skinner Building, is designated a Local Historic Place because it is an expression of the significance of the rebuilding of a Saint John commercial district after the Great Saint John Fire of 1877 and for its occupants.
The Skinner Building is one of an ensemble of commercial, Italianate and Second Empire buildings that were built between 1877 and 1881 after two thirds of the City of Saint John was destroyed by the fire in 1877. The elements and design in this building as well as the rest of the ensemble of buildings demonstrate that the city was going to be rebuilt as well or better than the city that was lost. The Skinner Building is a good example of the commercial Italianate style. The façade exhibits the traditional first floor storefront, while decorative window surrounds highlight the the three office floors.
The Skinner Building was built in 1877 for clothier William Doherty. Alfred Skinner was the proprietor of a carpet wareroom in the building from the early 1880's until the Great Depression in 1929. The inception of this business dates back to 1870 when the firm of Sheraton, Son and Skinner was formed. This firm brought the first complete stock of carpets to the Maritime Provinces in the early 1870's. When their premises, on Prince William Street, were destroyed in the Great Saint John Fire, their partnership dissolved.
After the fire, Skinner started out on his own accord in the Higgins Bros. Building at 68 King Street. His business became too large for the premises so he relocated to this building. It was stated in the 1880's that in Saint John there was no name more familiar in the households than "Skinner's warerooms". He bought his goods direct from the manufacturers in England and imported direct from the mills. His market extended throughout the Maritime Provinces. He had many contracts for supplying carpets to hotels and public buildings throughout the Maritimes. In the early 1900's Skinner's was proclaimed to have the largest retail stock of floor coverings in Canada.
The Skinner Building emphasizes the success of this business as Skinner utilized the entire premises and also had show rooms at 78 King Street. He proclaimed that he was the only merchant in Canada who sold nothing but floor coverings as that line of goods was usually found with furniture or other household necessities.
During the time of World War II, SMT Bus Lines occupied the building and remained here until the early 1980's. Today it is occupied by two radio stations.
58 King Street was recognized in the City of Saint John Preservation Areas Bylaw in 1982.
Source: Planning and Development Department-City of Saint John
The character defining elements of this Italianate building include:
- large cornice;
- small stone Roman arches in succession below the cornice;
- segmented arch windows with keystones:
- windows with stone surrounds;
- 1/1 vertical sliding wood windows;
- corbel bands below window sills;
- decorative recessed brickwork in spandrel panels below 3rd and 4th floor windows; -two sandstone panels between 3rd and 4th storeys, one displaying name J. Doherty and the other displaying date of 1877, the year of the Great Fire;
- stone quoins running vertically through center of the façade and along both corners;
- storefront with large plate glass windows;
- metal storefront cornice with brackets;
- recessed entranceway with columns;
- wooden bulk-heads;
- shares similar set-back with the other buildings on the block.
Local Governments (NB)
Municipal Heritage Preservation Act, s.5(1)
Municipal Heritage Preservation Act
1982/01/01 to 1982/01/01
1877/01/01 to 1877/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Communications Facility
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Planning and Development Department - City of Saint John
Cross-Reference to Collection