For hundreds of years Newfoundland has had its own distinct vernacular architecture peppering its coastline. Today, with structures dating to the 1700’s onward, this province, its residents, new and old, are now putting ever greater values and importance on built landscape.
Growing up in my hometown of Bonavista I have been surrounded by over one thousand heritage structures for much of my young life and over time my appreciation for this aspect of Newfoundland’s history has developed. All over Newfoundland-- Trinity, Bonavista, Brigus, Grand Bank, Fogo Island, Greenspond, St. John’s and many other towns and regions are awakening to the possibilities of heritage and heritage buildings, what they can be used for and who they can attract.
I have always wanted an historic home of my own and for the last couple of years, my partner Leann and I have been looking all around the Bonavista area for such a property. Both being employed in the area, we felt it was time to find the fixer-upper of our dreams. We found hundreds of homes we could love, most not for sale of course, but this past July on an afternoon walk we found “the house” on a side street up from Bonavista Harbour.
The William Pardy House, a provincial historic property and one of Canada’s listed historic places is unique in my eyes since it represents a way of life lost in the construction of today’s built landscape. This house, a two-storey Mansard-roofed home includes three original outbuildings - barn, workshop, and root cellar, and a well, all contained within a white washed fence.
To an historic home lover like myself it was exciting to see such an original home that had yet to be restored by Bonavista’s active Historical Townscape Foundation and Historical Society. With close inspection the house displayed gable roundels, brackets and rounded-dormer windows with intricate original moldings. Hearts should flutter at such a sight in 2010 and for me the excitement was palpable. All those years growing up in Bonavista, I had never really noticed this particular home and all its original trimmings.
The next day we called to see inside this 1887 beauty and hours later we told the owner, “consider it sold”. Almost two months later when the deal was done (historic homes take major time and paperwork to buy) we opened the door to our new old house and with that the adventure began. Welcome to Pardy House!