This nationally designated district comprises some twenty neighbouring former mid-19th-century mercantile buildings on either side of Water Street between Beck’s Cove and Mahon’s Lane, near the St. John’s harbour. The designation refers to the buildings at 288-300 and 291-307 Water Street as well as the Murray Premises National Historic Site of Canada and the land that surrounds them.
Water Street Historic District was designated a national historic site of Canada because it is a contiguous group of commercial structures that are, for the most part, representative of the mercantile establishments built in St. John's in the mid-19th century, by those associated with the Newfoundland fisheries and the Atlantic trade.
Erected (with two exceptions) soon after the Great Fire of 1846, the buildings represent the commercial architecture in St. John’s before the 20th century. Their site and setting are also part of their heritage value, illustrating their historical access to the harbour.
Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
the relationship of the buildings to each other and to the open spaces between and around them; siting of most buildings flush to the sidewalk and abutting each other; streetside buildings with large retail windows on ground floors; the brick and stone construction with timber framing; surviving brick nogging; vernacular designs with regular fenestration and minimal, classically inspired detailing; the consistent two to three-and-a-half storey heights; front-sloping gable or flat roofs; the unadorned rear elevations; the surviving west wing of the O’Dwyer Block in its three-storey, rectangular massing, ashlar facing, Neoclassical inspiration for the geometric, linear design and detailing such as the pediment and pilasters; the compatible scale of the Bank of Nova Scotia Building; the heritage value of Murray Premises National Historic Site of Canada.
Time Period Represented: mid-19th century
Visitor Fees (if any): none
Seasons Open: year-round
Accessibility Notes: public street, building visable to all
pets may be brought along