The James Peters, Jr. Residence at 42 Coburg Street in Saint John is designated a Local Historic Place for its architecture, for its association with the Loyalist Peters family and for its cultural status as a landmark in the city of Saint John.
The James Peters, Jr. Residence is recognized for its association with the Loyalist Peters family and its descendants. The James Peters, Jr. Residence was constructed circa 1827 by the Honourable Charles Jeffrey Peters as a residence for his eldest son, James Peters Jr. Charles J. Peters, who became the third Attorney-General of New Brunswick in 1828, was a son of James Peters Sr., one of the fifty-five Loyalist Agents who emigrated from New England in 1783.
James Peters Sr.’s prominence among that group is illustrated by the fact that his home in Long Island had served as the headquarters for Sir Guy Carleton. All three generations of Peters men were important practitioners of law in New Brunswick.
Charles J. Peters also commissioned other buildings in Saint John: his own superb home further down Coburg Street (which has been known as Peters House, Hatheway House, Knights of Columbus Hall, and Chinese Commerce Centre) and several other homes for some of his twenty children including a wood frame house further up Coburg Street. He was also on the committee that organized construction of the Court House on King’s Square. Coburg Street from Union Street to Carleton Street was once known as Peters’ Hill.
In the earliest years of the 19th century, it was at the far outskirts of the city and the ground there was higher. The whole area was once the grounds for Charles’ stately residence. Peters Street was opened up by him in 1819, on which he sold building lots. James Peters Jr. was prominent in his own right. As well as practicing law and representing his prominent Loyalist family in social circles, he was a member of the company that made the first, and spectacularly unsuccessful, attempt to span Reversing Falls with a suspension bridge in 1835.
At the time of his short residency here, he was clerk at City Hall. He sold the house for £1225 in 1834 to John Hammond, a merchant, after which it changed hands several times. It was used as a medical facility for many years.
The James Peters, Jr. Residence is also recognized for being a rare example of Neoclassical residential architecture from the early post-Loyalist period in Saint John. There is a strong possibility that the architect for this building was John J. Cunningham, who also designed the Saint John County Courthouse completed in 1828 on King’s Square and later worked in Boston. The house is visible in William S. Pendleton’s 1835 hand-coloured lithograph “The Northern and Eastern Panoramic View of St. John, N.B.” The unique vaulted portico and curved wood and leaded-glass door forming the entrance to this house greatly enhances its architectural heritage value. Its front façade is ashlar masonry of pale yellow sandstone with incisions of distinctive Adamesque motifs over the lintels. The Neoclassical style is expressed in the elegant proportions of a three-ranked façade with low-pitched side gables, the quoins and the gable end returns. This stone structure set the tone for a high style group of buildings filling in the streetscape along the slope of Coburg Street.
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