Irish immigrant Henry O’Neill had this complex in St. Andrews built circa 1828. Many locals have wondered about this unusual elongated building which, at first glance, resembles some sort of barracks. The block upon which this building stands was known locally as the O’Neill Block in honour of Henry O’Neill. The complex is basically two homes put together, with the home on the left having an extra rank of windows on each side of the entrance. This was most probably the home of Henry O’Neill and his sons.
Henry O’Neill was one of the most successful early Irish settlers and he and his family became one of the most philanthropic families in the Town of St. Andrews. Henry immigrated to Canada in March 1818 from Tyrone County, Ireland, arriving in Saint John after a two month voyage. Having secured a sub-contract for supplying provisions to the troops quartered in the garrison at St. Andrews, he moved to this town in 1821.
O’Neill’s popularity among early Catholic immigrants is evident from the fact that the first Catholic mass in St. Andrews was held at the O’Neill Complex, his first home, in 1822. A collection of 30 pounds was raised during the mass to build a church. O’Neill was a strong advocate for total abstinence and engaged in numerous benevolent activities. He raised 12 children and passed away in 1884 at the age of 92, making him one of the last early Irish immigrants.
After his death, his sons continued to operate the meat business he had established in 1823 under the name H. O’Neill. The residential O’Neill Complex remained in the possession of his descendants for 143 years.
The architectural style of the O’Neill Complex is simple and vernacular, featuring a plain roof-line, low plan with symmetrical proportions, and multi-pane windows that contribute to its rustic charm. The block was once part of O’Neill’s large farm, which was enclosed by a white thorn hedge imported from Belfast, Ireland.
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