This was the residence of the first Provincial Secretary, the Hon. Jonathan Odell, perhaps the most accomplished of our Loyalist arrivals. He was a celebrated writer, doctor, minister of religion, as well as being the leading propagandist poet of the Loyalist cause during the American Revolution.
Although the present residence, at 808 Brunswick Street, was built in 1785, it was originally linked to a pre-Loyalist house that contained both the summer kitchen and quarters for Odell’s slaves. Unfortunately, this annex was torn down in 1959.
Most of the Loyalists settling the St. John River valley came from Massachusetts, and brought with them the same architectural styles and building processes that had graced their American communities for generations. Due to the harsh, rugged nature and lack of building materials, the houses built in the City in the 1780’s resembled more their cruder New England forerunners of 1700 to 1730.
Apparent in the Odell house are simple shingle-clad wood framing, medium-pitched gable roofs, a lack of opulent Classically-inspired ornament in favour of ordered simplicity and slightly imperfect symmetry.
The Odell house is considered by some historians to be the most important house in Fredericton for its influence on subsequent residential architecture in New Brunswick; the style was so predominant that even 40 years later, many houses were still being built nearly identical to Odell’s.