Festivals & Events

Stepping Back in Time: The Loyalist House of Saint John

A Portal to Saint John's Past

Located in the heart of Saint John, the Loyalist House stands as a timeless treasure, encapsulating over two centuries of history within its walls. Constructed between 1810 and 1817 by David Merritt, a notable United Empire Loyalist and merchant, this house isn't just a building - it's a portal to the past.

The architectural splendor of the Loyalist House is a testament to the neoclassical design traditions that were carried from New England to Atlantic Canada in the early 19th century. With its Federal style, the house exudes an air of elegance and symmetry that is both captivating and historically significant. Imagine walking under the low hipped roof, admiring the rectangular two-storey structure, and feeling the presence of history in its symmetrical façade and evenly spaced sash windows.

What makes the Loyalist House a true survivor is its endurance through the Great Fire of 1877, which ravaged much of central Saint John. This historical landmark is not only one of the oldest residences in the city but also a symbol of resilience and heritage.

As you step inside, the house reveals its rich interior, adorned with Adamesque mouldings and woodwork. The curved staircase, hidden doors, and original furniture pieces, including Sheraton, Empire, and Duncan Phyfe styles, tell stories of a bygone era. Each room, from the family living quarters on the main floors to the servants' quarters at the top, is a chapter in the story of the Merritt family and the evolution of 19th-century life in Saint John.

The Merritt family, hailing from Rye, New York, were prominent figures in Saint John. This house, which they called home for generations, was a witness to their lives and contributions to the community. In 1961, the New Brunswick Historical Society recognized the significance of this house and transformed it into a museum, preserving the legacy of the Merritt family and the Loyalist heritage of Saint John.

Visiting the Loyalist House is like stepping through time. With its Georgian and Victorian furniture, and a rich collection of artifacts, the museum offers a unique glimpse into the life of a wealthy Saint John family in the 19th century. The house, now a National Historic Site of Canada, stands as a proud reminder of the city's past, lovingly maintained and cherished by the community.

In 2017, the Loyalist House underwent a significant refurbishment, enhancing its appeal and preserving its historical and architectural integrity. Today, it not only serves as a museum but also as an educational center, where the stories of the past are kept alive for future generations.

For those who wish to delve deeper into the history of the Loyalist House and the city of Saint John, we recommend visiting the museum's official website

As you walk through the Loyalist House, let your imagination wander back to the days of David Merritt, and experience the echoes of history that resonate within its walls. This house isn’t just a part of Saint John’s past; it’s a living, breathing piece of history, waiting to share its stories with you.