Germain Street is considered one of Saint John’s finest streets. It’s a popular venue for photographers to snap shots of the majestic doorways and architectural details and painters have been known to represent the elegant homes on canvas. It’s a street rich in history lined with homes that display the quality workmanship of a bygone era.
Germain Street is also included in one of Tourism Saint John three historic walking tours of the Port City. The “Victorian Stroll” takes pedestrians on a pleasant walk along the tree-lined, 19th century residential streets of central Saint John highlighting fine homes built in the city after the Great Fire of 1877. (For a brochure of the walking tours, go to: http://maps.saintjohn.ca/othermaps/Walking%20Tour%20Final%20-%202013.pdf.)
Each of the elegant homes featured in the brochure is an example of period architecture, combined with outstanding workmanship. The brochure states that after the fire, “Many of the fine homes which had lined the main residential streets of Saint John had been reduced to ashes. Their owners – wealthy ship owners, commission agents and merchants – were determined that their new homes would equal, if not surpass those they replaced. They commissioned architects from Saint John, Boston, Halifax, New York, Toronto and Montreal. They imported fine materials – mahogany from Honduras and marble from Italy – and they engaged noted Saint John builders and craftsmen.”
One of the grand homes highlighted along this picturesque historic walk is 212 Germain Street, built for the grandson of the family that established Canada’s first biscuit company in 1801.
Known as the Henry Caldwell Rankine Residence, this two-storey brick Italianate residence is part of the Trinity Royal Preservation Area and, since 1982, has been registered with Canada’s Historic Places. (To see information on the home’s historic designation, go to: http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=9084.)
In the 130 years since the home was built between 1884 and 1885, there have been only five owners. As a result, the residence has been lovingly cared for, beautifully maintained and today continues to be historically significant with much of its original splendour.
Standing outside the home, attributed to local architect R.C. John Dunn, take note of the brick work, two-storey bay windows, sandstone lintels and sills, and pay special attention to the gargoyle. This carving is not only decorative. It drains water from the home’s roof through its open mouth!
As you climb the stairs, admire the cast iron railings modelled after the Girl Guides of Canada cookies. Take a look at the massive wood front doors, and step inside to a vestibule lined with mosaic tiles and outstanding wood panels. Another set of impressive doors brings you into this elaborate home which is today a beautiful blend of historic charm and modern convenience.
Inside, the foyer presents the gorgeous original staircase. To your right, step through wood and glass, four-panel double doors to the double parlours. These adjoining rooms are filled with original character and boast two fireplaces, a walk-out bay window, deep crown mouldings, light fixtures with ceiling medallions, stunning original woodwork and shutters. Here you will travel back in time to an era of elegance and style.
Continue down the hallway to the home’s large dining room. Stop to imagine all of the dinner parties that will have taken place in this very room. If only the walls could talk! This space offers panel wainscoting, another gorgeous work-of-art fireplace, a built-in china cabinet, cleverly hidden inside a closet. Note the intricate radiator cover in front of the walkout bay window.
Next, make your way to the home’s new kitchen. This sunny space has been renovated with modern conveniences, yet it filled with the warmth characteristic of the home. Here you’ll find lovely custom cherry cabinets, a large central island with granite and bar seating. There are huge windows, hardwood flooring, and exists to the home’s private backyard gardens.
A new bathroom with wainscoting and a pedestal sink completes the main floor.
Take the impressive stairs to the second floor where you will find a huge master bedroom with yet another walkout bay window, a fourth original fireplace, deep crown moulding, hardwood flooring and a doorway to the renovated second-floor bathroom with a tub/shower and pedestal sink.
Another equally beautiful bedroom is also found on this level. The sunny room has elaborate crown moulding, a ceiling medallion, the fifth fireplace, a radiator with intricate cover, and a big, sunny window.
Another feature of this home is a complete in-law suite. This renovated space features a full, sunny kitchen, a bathroom with claw foot tub and vanity, a bedroom and a living/sitting area that could also be used as the home’s fourth bedroom.
Own a piece of history on Saint John’s finest Uptown street. Enjoy the elegance of yesteryear, combined with modern convenience. Walk to fine restaurants, shops and the harbour front. This is a rare opportunity! Call Katherine Bacon, Certified Fine Home Specialist at 506-849-2601, or toll free across North America at 1-877-676-0300 today for your private showing.