115 Gower Street - For Sale





Vernacular Downtown Architecture at itís Best


John Thomas Southcott was born in St. Johnís in 1853. His father James and his uncle John, had come to St. Johnís from Exeter, England in 1847 to assist in the rebuilding of the City after the 1846 fire. They were, for most of the next 50 years, the major contractors in the City involved in both construction and design, operating under the name of J. & J.T. Southcott, and no firm had such a marked influence on the islandís architecture as did this firm. The range of their capabilities was profound as they built both the Heartís Content Cable Station and the St. Johnís Athenaeum, together with such residential properties as 34-36 Circular Rd, Park Place on Rennies Mill Rd, Park House on Military Road, Devon Row on Duckworth St. , and many houses that were constructed after the fire of 1892 including the stunning vernacular structures at 115, 117, and 119 Gower St., the left one being the structure currently offered here.


When building the Heartís Content Cable Station, it was said of James Southcott that he was: ďhard but honest: he would not drive a nail free, but what he said he would do, I could always rely on being doneĒ.


After an apprenticeship with J. & J.T. Southcott, John Thomas was sent to Exeter to study architecture with W.R. Best, who had been in Newfoundland from 1849-1855. Best was an architect and artist and during his time in Newfoundland he drew ten views of buildings in the City which were lithographed by W. Spreat and published by Frederick R. Page of St. Johnís. Best also drew ďA View of the Harbour and Town of St. JohnísĒ which was also published by Page. These views represent to this day, the best collection of illustrations of St. Johnís and its early 19th century architecture and are a testament to the capabilities of John Southcottís mentor and teacher.


John Southcottís return to St. Johnís in 1876 saw the general introduction of the Second Empire style to Newfoundland, which has come to characterize the architecture of the City. Its form and embellishments are outstanding, with concave-curved mansard roof, bonnet topped dormers, decorative cornices under the eaves, and bay windows. His work became known as the Southcott style and each year, in Southcottís honour, the Newfoundland Historic Trust presents the Southcott Awards for excellence in restoration of heritage structures.


Following the Great Fire of 1892, which destroyed an enormous section of the downtown area of St. Johnís, John Southcott built the three properties 115, 117 and 119 Gower. It has been said that he built these three houses for his daughters, Anna, Emma and Alice and that Nurse Mary Southcott, who became Superintendent of Nurses for the General Hospital and, in 1903 began the first Training School for Nurses in Newfoundland, lived at 117 Gower St. The date of construction could have been in 1893 or within a short period of time after 1893. Pride of ownership has continued to this day with original vernacular character remaining completely intact.


The House


Main Floor: A very stylish and unique stained & bevelled-glass entryway leads one into the front hall; soaring 11í ceilings, plastered arch and cove mouldings, and permeating this space with a warm, cheerful light. The leaded glass work , although new, has been lovingly crafted in the old way of master glass craftsmen . Throughout the entire home the craft of the builder is inherent, displaying vintage hardwood floors and softwood floors, original scrolled stairway mouldings, plaster rosettes, plaster corbel arched entry, and extra-wide solid-wood trim detail. On the left, the living room offers an elegant, but comfortable area for entertaining guests with the original slate fireplace. The dining room is located conveniently between the living room and kitchen for the advantage of both host and guest. The kitchen has bright windows facing the harbour Off the kitchen is a large, sunny deck to extend your gathering. Underneath this deck is off street parking entering from Holloway St.


Second Floor: The Master bedroom and second bedrooms are located on the second floor along with a totally updated bathroom. Both bedrooms have functioning fireplaces.


Third Floor


The deck, overlooking St. Johnís Harbour is a spectacular space where you can enjoy views of sun rising over the narrows and setting on the Southside Hills and the activity in the harbour and the City below will create daily interest. Then step inside to the third floor that gives one the feel of a peaceful sanctuary away from the bustle of the world. The owners have opened up this space with a stunning great room. This is truly Ďa room with a viewí! The third floor also boasts a multi purpose room that currently serves as an art studio and a laundry room with sink and storage. A convenient skylight in the hall draws natural daylight into the top floor and well down into the staircase.


The Basement: A neatly organized basemen is ideal for a workshop and storage and has access to the parking at the back of the house through an enclosed mudroom. There is a modern bathroom with a shower and a wall of ample storage closets.


Structure: The three Southcott houses in this row have all been solidly constructed with fire safety uppermost in mind Ė All three homes have brick noggin between the studs in the wall from the basement to the third floor, as a flame retarding barrier. There is no doubt that Southcott chose this form of construction as the legacy of the impact of the fire of 1892 would have still been very profound. Another unusual feature, which is a testament to the quality of construction is the fact that it was determined a number of years ago when 115 Gower was being renovated, that the studs are of heavy timber and are tenoned into the sills. Another signature feature of Southcott construction. One might notice upon scrutiny, that all three houses share a unique characteristic. The owners collaborated on their similar front entryways and commissioned etched glasswork reflecting their favourite Newfoundland native wildflowers. The door at 115 has the inimitable Pitcher Plant, 117 has the exotic Showy Ladyís Slipper, and 119 has the exquisite Twin Flower. The three Southcott sisters would approve.


Asking price: $469,000


Enjoy the remaining photos which follow (room dimensions noted at the end of photos):




Click thumbnail below to enlarge image:


115 Gower
Three Southcott houses
Foyer with plaster corbel archway and stained glass entry
Outside door has etched Picture Plant on oval glass
Entry showing etched glass picture plant oval
Stained glass entry with starburst etched corner glass
Dining room
Dining room
Leaded glass entry to kitchen
Living room with slate fireplace
Living room
Exquisite staircase looking from landing
Looking to stained glass on landing from second floor
Second floor hallway
Master bedroom
Second floor bedroom adjacent to master
Second floor bedroom next to master
Second floor bathroom
Outside both second floor bedrooms
Looking towards stairs to third floor
Third floor great room with outstanding harbour view
Third floor great room
Third floor great room
Third floor great room
Third floor great room
Third floor multi purpose room currently used as an art studio
Main level sunny deck off kitchen
Main floor sunny deck off kitchen
Main floor deck
Main floor deck
You will love this view
Outstanding deck on thrid floor with fantastic views and lots of sunshine
Cabot Tower from the third floor deck
Window wall on third floor deck
Dormer window at front of house
Basement entrance
Parking area
The best of downtown vernacular post fire architecture
115 Gower St. awaits your viewing pleasure

For an appointment to view the best of vernacular downtown architecture, call Chris OíDea at 685-6559 (area code 709) or email




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