Please be advised that following the August 8, 2022 decision by Saint John City Council, demolition of the property at 111 King Street East is planned for Monday, January 9, 2023.
The subsequent and removal of debris is expected to take up to two weeks.
For a number of years J.D. Irving, Limited has been examining options for the future of our property at 111 King Street East (Brown House) and the two adjoining properties that are currently vacant. These properties are collectively the “Brown House Properties.”
We have proposed to the City of Saint John to remove these three properties from the King Street East Heritage Conservation Area and to construct a children’s playground and historical park in that location. We believe that such a community space would be an asset to King Street East by providing a place for families, friends and neighbours to play, relax and get fresh air. We are involved in this community through initiatives and organizations such as PALS and the Boys and Girls Club. This work has shown there is a need in this area of our city for a place where children can play safely.
*Revised Park Design
Based on comments made during the Saint John Common Council meeting on July 11, including particular comments and suggestions made by Mr. Harold E. Wright, JDI has undertaken efforts to enhance the design of the park to incorporate more heritage and historically significant events and concepts. As well, JDI retained the services of Viridis Design Studio Ltd, a firm specializing in landscaping architecture and park planning and design. Viridis has provided JDI with various historical and heritage design ideas and recommendations for incorporation into the proposed park.
Below are the highlights of the changes to the proposal and above are the revised renderings following this feedback.
(1) Updated storyboards and historical concepts
The storyboards will not just outline the history of the property, but they will capture a lot of important historical moments for Saint John, a city with a history of firsts. In addition to the storyboards on the First Saint John Irish Free Presbyterian Church and the Great Fire that were already highlighted in our presentation to Council on July 11, there will be additional subjects covered which may include:
- The Saint John Boy Scouts and the founding of one of their major fundraisers; apple day, which started right here in the City.
- The first YWCA in Canada, headquartered in the former Presbyterian church, and their involvement in the community.
- John Milligan: Architect and Civil Engineer, who is buried across the street in the Loyalist Burial Ground.
- Aviation in Saint John, in particular Courtney Bay, where two famous flights took place.
- Saint John wartime history, which is very extensive and spans multiple wars and centuries.
- The Loyalists and the founding of Canada’s oldest incorporated city, Saint John, NB.
- Jacob Paikowsky, a prominent businessman in Saint John, and the man responsible for the construction of the current building at 111 King Street East in 1941.
- Shipbuilding in the port city from Saint John Shipbuilding Limited right back to wooden sailing ships of the 18th century, one being the Egeria, the only 18th century wooden ship from Canada that still survives to this day.
(2) More heritage elements and representation
JDI has added additional physical elements into the park to tie the history of the site into the park itself. Here are a few examples:
- To pay homage to the First Saint John Irish Free Presbyterian Church that existed before the building today, we added a scaled down replica of the church steeple to create a cornerstone for the park.
- We are planning to preserve and repurpose certain elements of the existing building such as the front steps or structural timbers if possible. Due to the condition of the current building, some challenges have been presented for repurposing parts of the building.
- As the former church housed a library for the YWCA when they were first founded in Saint John, we believe including books into the design would be a good idea. This sparked a unique idea for the park, a small free library.
- Due to the founding of “Apple Day” in Saint John, we changed the theme of the park to more red colours rather than green. Also, we are looking at incorporating an “apple” as part of the playground equipment itself.
(3) Miscellaneous additional changes
- We made changes to the groundcover so it would better match the burial grounds and the “Uptown Saint John standard”. We replaced the gravel pad with brick pavers and granite edging to match the burial ground. To better accommodate the children’s park, the centre of the pad is now an engineered wood fiber designed specifically for playgrounds.
- We added a second smaller play structure so younger children would have a safer place to play. Please note that both structures shown in the renderings are preliminary placeholders and may change in shape and design once JDI starts consultations with the equipment manufacturer.
- In response to concerns raised at the Council meeting on July 11th, we have amended the park agreement with the City to expand the language and outline a process in the unfortunate event the park no longer represents a public benefit or becomes an undue burden from repeated instances of vandalism, crime, etc. Also, JDI will undertake security monitoring to deter these type of activities and there is now a process whereby the City has the opportunity to provide input or assistance to remedy the problem before the owner would take any further steps.
*Above is a rendering of how the Paikowsky steps could be incorporated into the design
Current Brown House Properties
The Brown House Properties are adjacent to our corporate headquarters on the north side of King Street East. The Brown House building has been vacant for several years. We recently asked Dillon Consulting to evaluate the status of the Brown House, and they determined it is severely deteriorated and beyond feasible repair.
A copy of our application to the City of Saint John’s Heritage Officer can be found here.
*Above, the deteriorated condition of the existing building can be seen.
We recognize that Saint John has many beautiful heritage properties and we acknowledge the need to protect them. That is why we have sought input from experts to determine next steps with the Brown House Properties. After receiving their feedback, it was made clear that:
- The proposed children’s playground would be a great improvement over the current dilapidated building in that location.
- The historical displays at the park will tell the history of Saint John and the site and serve to remind visitors of our rich heritage.
- The experts we consulted with at Architects Four Limited have stated that the Brown House properties do not fit the same architectural period or style of the dominant streetscape on King Street East and they are not of unique historical significance.
- Due to the level of structural deterioration of the current building and the presence of mold and other toxins, the building is beyond feasible repair.