MEET A LONG STANDING MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY
32 Queen’s Road is historically significant not just because of the materials used in its construction but because it miraculously survived the devastating conflagration that consumed much of St. John’s on July 8, 1892. Remembered as the worst disaster ever to befall that city, a series of unfortunate coincidences created a catastrophic caused the fire to spread and devour over two thirds of St. John's, including all of original east end and most major commercial areas before being extinguished. This was the 2nd Great Fire to occur in St. John's, the first 46 years earlier in 1846.
The original ownership deeds and documents were among the 20 volumes of records lost when city hall and other government buildings fell in the path of the terrible fire that burned for a full day and night. Fueled by the closely spaced, wooden buildings that defined St. John’s at that time, the house itself was extremely lucky to survive, but did not escape unscathed. .
While the exterior walls survived, the interior had burned out and had to be rebuilt. In 1894 the house was registered to James and Mary Knight which most likely was when the interior rebuild occurred. A merchant by trade, James R. Knight also lost his place of business at 315 Water Street during the blaze.
Within an hour the fire, started in a stable on Freshwater Road, had shown that it could not be contained and was about to quickly spread across the city. This was during a water shortage and caused much panic among the citizens. With much looting occurring downtown, and for fear of losing everything in the fire, people rushed to stone buildings like 32 Queens and filled them with favored possessions. The stone walls were expected to stave off the flames but unfortunately, all was lost when the fire spread inside the homes and buildings.
Evidence of the historic fire can still be seen in the home's basement as a single surviving original window stands as a silent witness to the tragedy. Singed but tested and holding firm over a century later, a true window to the past and testament to the home's construction.