Description of Historic Place
Pagan-O’Neil House is a 2-storey wood-frame L-shaped gabled house situated on Queen Street in the Town of St. Andrews.
Pagan-O’Neil House is designated a Provincial Historic Site for its architecture and for its association with former occupants.
The first group of Loyalist settlers arrived with all their possessions in St. Andrews in October 1783, from Castine, Maine. Many even disassembled the frame houses they had built, transported them by ship, and erected them in St. Andrews. The main portion of Pagan-O’Neil House was one of these houses moved from Castine and erected in St. Andrews circa 1785 on the present site.
Pagan-O’Neil House is one of the oldest buildings in St. Andrews and serves as an excellent example of a Georgian residence characteristic of much of the early housing stock in St. Andrews. It is comprised of a 41’-0” long x 18’-6” wide two-storey section fronting Frederick Street and a 40’-6” long x 19’-5” wide two-storey ell fronting Queen Street, the latter of which features a small entry porch.
The house’s initial owner, Loyalist Robert Pagan (1750-1821), established himself firmly as the most prominent merchant in the Passamaquoddy region and would serve as a magistrate, a judge, a member of the Legislative Assembly, and a colonel in the militia. Pagan was also instrumental in determining New Brunswick’s border with the District of Maine, as Pagan’s joint discovery with surveyor Thomas Wright in 1797 of the remains of Sieur de Monts and Champlain’s 1604 settlement determined the actual identity of the St Croix River listed in early documents, which up to then had been undetermined. By 1815, Pagan was one of the 12 wealthiest men in the province, and in 1820, he became a founding member and shareholder of the Bank of New Brunswick.
The house is also jointly named for the O’Neil family, who occupied this residence from 1869 to 1974.
Source: Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport - Heritage Branch - Site File: Vol.III-12765-1/19
The character-defining elements that describe the architecture of Pagan-O’Neil House include:
- overall Vernacular approach of the structure with Georgian design arrangements, distinguished on the exterior by its symmetrical layout of five window bays on both floors of the Frederick Street façade with a bare interval on the ground level which once housed a central door;
- medium pitch gable roof with attic windows;
- central brick chimney;
- lack of soffit and roof overhang;
- rectangular 2-storey massing;
- overall restraint and lack of ornament;
- replica of exterior materials, exemplifying the original cladding and trim, including the horizontal wood clapboards and wood shingles, painted window trim, thin unadorned corner boards and soffit trim;
- uncoursed, red sandstone rubble foundation walls.
The character-defining elements that describe the interior of Pagan-O’Neil House include:
- main floor dining room featuring finely crafted painted chair rails, paneled wainscoting, and fluted pilasters encasing the room’s corner posts;
- visible structure of the main floor and roof, comprised of large hand-hewn mortise-jointed beams supporting wide wood planks;
- roof structure with visible pairs of numbers carved into the corresponding pieces, likely dating from the Castine disassembly and moved;
- older section’s upper floor hallway with thin interior partitions made of wide vertical pine planks;
- exposed softwood flooring boards at the second floor;
- original painted wood trim, plaster crown moulding and baseboards throughout the house;
- stairs throughout, including the principal winding staircase with its square wood balusters and simply decorated tall square newel post;
- winding attic stair;
- exquisite fireplace mantels with detailed Georgian ornamental execution set throughout the house;
- rear ell stair.