Loyalist House, located on Union Street in Saint John, is recognized as a Local Historic Place due to its architectural significance and historical connection to the Merritt family. In 1963, it was also designated a National Historic Site of Canada for its New England-inspired architecture.
This noteworthy example of a large Neoclassical residence in Saint John displays the Adamesque style. Its proportions and decorative motifs reveal the influence of Classical (mainly Greek) Antiquity within the American Federal Style, which originated from the work of Charles and Robert Adam in 18th-century Britain. The house features many typical Adamesque elements, including a symmetrical square plan, a hipped roof with a subtle ridge, four substantial brick chimneys, an elliptical transom, and sidelights with intricate tracery. The fenestration’s symmetry and rhythm are also characteristic of this style. The residence displays well-proportioned and finely crafted Adamesque interior moldings and woodwork, such as detailed carving, deep moldings, a curved staircase, and concealed curved doors at the entrance hall’s end. Original furniture, including Sheraton, Empire, and Duncan Phyfe designs, as well as pieces from local furniture maker Thomas Nesbitt, can still be found in the house. In the kitchen, the original fireplace tools remain, featuring an iron pressure cooker from 1795. A tall shingled carriage house with a semi-circular fanlight also stands on the property.
In 1783, the Merritt family from Rye, New York, arrived in Saint John with the Queen’s Rangers after the American Revolution’s conclusion. A large portion of the family relocated to Ontario, where they achieved military and business success. Thomas and Amy Merritt stayed in Saint John with their family. Their third son, David Daniel, constructed “Loyalist House” around 1811 for himself and his family of seven at the intersection of Union and Germain streets.
The house was finished around 1817, representing the status and luxury of a prosperous second-generation Loyalist family. David passed away in 1820, and the house was inherited by his son, David Jabez Merritt. Upon his death in 1884, the house was handed down to his daughter, Louise Harrison, and then to her son, Louis, in 1941. Louis Merritt’s son, David, was born in 1946, making him the fifth generation to reside there. The Merritt family held a prominent position in Saint John’s community. The New Brunswick Historical Society acquired the Merritt House in 1959 and has since operated it as a museum devoted to the city’s Loyalist heritage.
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