New Brunswick

Loyalist House servants' quarters opened for first time

Four rooms at Loyalist House are open to the public for the first time in almost 200 years. The upper-floor rooms were once the servants’ quarters, and had previously been "out of sight, out of mind" according to administrators at the National Historic Site.

Visitors can now get 'Downton Abbey'-style glimpse at working-class lives at Saint John national historic site

$600K facelift of the site earlier this summer included new windows, restored shutters and chimneys, several new coats of paint, and the installation of a mural by St. Andrews artist Geoff Slater. (Barry Ogden)

Four rooms at Loyalist House are open to the public for the first time in almost 200 years.

The upper-floor rooms were once the servants' quarters.

From the inside, says Deborah Coleman of the New Brunswick Historical Society, "you wouldn't think there was a third floor: there are no windows. It had been out of sight, out of mind."

The house belonged to the Merritt family of Saint John until 1959, when it was purchased by the New Brunswick Historical Society.

It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1963.

An 'immense job'

Major restorations were underway at Loyalist House for much of the spring: now, the servants' quarters are open to the public for the first time. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
Restoration of the servants' quarters started earlier this summer and artifacts stored there — including books, furniture, and a large 1810 map of North America — had to be sorted and cleaned, which Coleman says was "an immense job."

"The problem was with the old servants' quarters is that there was no windows. In later times, they added skylights, but there's no ventilation and no heating," she said.

"It would be very cold in the winter and dreadfully hot in the summer."

Now, she says, "we have the different rooms all set up with the different furniture." 

More visitors this summer

Administrators say visitor numbers are up at the 1817 site. 

A $600,000 facelift earlier this summer included new windows, restored shutters and chimneys, new paint, and the installation of a mural by St. Andrews artist Geoff Slater depicting the landing of the United Empire Loyalists.

The servants' quarters have, Coleman says, "sparked people's interest. A lot of people are looking for their roots, and this is the Loyalist City."

"If you've ever watched Downton Abbey, the servants are much more interesting than those who were 'to the manor born.'"

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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