The James Peters Jr. Residence, situated at 42 Coburg Street in Saint John, is recognized as a Local Historic Place due to its architectural significance, connection to the renowned Loyalist Peters family, and its role as a cultural landmark in the city.
Built around 1827 by the Honourable Charles Jeffrey Peters for his eldest son, James Peters Jr., the residence is closely linked to the Loyalist Peters family and their descendants. Charles J. Peters, New Brunswick’s third Attorney-General in 1828, was the son of James Peters Sr., one of the fifty-five Loyalist Agents who migrated from New England in 1783. James Peters Sr.’s prominence within this group is evident in his Long Island home serving as Sir Guy Carleton’s headquarters. Three generations of the Peters family played significant roles in New Brunswick’s legal profession.
Charles J. Peters commissioned several notable buildings in Saint John, including his own magnificent home on Coburg Street (also known as Peters House, Hatheway House, Knights of Columbus Hall, and Chinese Commerce Centre), multiple residences for his twenty children, and a wooden frame house further up Coburg Street. He was also involved in the committee responsible for building the Court House on King’s Square. The section of Coburg Street between Union Street and Carleton Street was once named Peters’ Hill in their honour.
In the early 19th century, the area surrounding the James Peters Jr. Residence was on the city’s outskirts and situated on elevated ground. Charles’ grand estate once encompassed the entire region. In 1819, he opened Peters Street and sold building lots along it. James Peters Jr. was a distinguished figure in his own right, practicing law and representing his prominent Loyalist family at social events. He was also part of the company that made the first, albeit unsuccessful, attempt to build a suspension bridge across Reversing Falls in 1835.
While living at the property, James Peters Jr. served as the clerk at City Hall. In 1834, he sold the house to merchant John Hammond for £1225, after which it passed through various owners. For an extended period, the residence functioned as a medical facility.
The James Peters Jr. Residence is also celebrated as a unique example of Neoclassical residential architecture in Saint John, dating back to the early post-Loyalist era. It is highly likely that the architect behind this building was John J. Cunningham, who designed the Saint John County Courthouse, completed in 1828 on King’s Square, and later worked in Boston. The house is featured in William S. Pendleton’s 1835 hand-colored lithograph, “The Northern and Eastern Panoramic View of St. John, N.B.”
The residence’s architectural heritage value is significantly enhanced by its distinctive vaulted portico and curved wood and leaded-glass door forming the entrance. Its front façade is composed of ashlar masonry using pale yellow sandstone, featuring unique Adamesque motifs above the lintels. The Neoclassical style is showcased through the elegant proportions of a three-ranked façade with low-pitched side gables, quoins, and gable end returns. This stone structure set a high standard for the group of buildings that would eventually line the streetscape along Coburg Street’s incline.
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