The Benjamin Barbour Home is one of two heritage homes at the Barbour Living Heritage Village, Newtown. It was built by the Barbour family, one of the most prominent sealing families in Newfoundland.
The house was originally build for Captain Benjamin Barbour and his family of nine sons and two daughters. Benjamin settled in Newtown from Cobbler’s Island in 1873. Prior to moving into the new home in 1875, the family lived in a “log cabin” nearby.
Fourteen of Benjamin’s descendants became captains and ten of those were sealing captains. The Barbours were also involved in trades outside the sealing industry. Most were involved in the fishery, especially the Labrador fishery. They also established and maintained a business in Newtown until the 1960’s, as well as in the St. John’s, the capital city. These business ventures made the Barbours vital to the economic well-being of the small community of less than 600 residents.
The Benjamin Barbour Home is typical of the larger merchant houses built in many Newfoundland communities in the latter part of the 18th century. The gabled roof, symmetrical facade, end chimneys, and general proportions made it almost identical to many of the merchant houses in Brigus, which also produced its share of great sealing captains. The house has two storeys and is mainly constructed of pine.
This house is unique in that it was originally intended to be a semi-detached dwelling housing two families. There are two front doors, but inside there is no wall dividing the two sections of the house. There are twin staircases leading to the second floor and its twelve bedrooms and parlour. In all, there are thirty-two rooms in the house including two kitchens and two dining rooms.
The house became a Registered Heritage Structure in 1986 and was presented with the Southcott Award for heritage preservation and restoration in 1998. Today it is a major part of the Barbour Living Heritage Village with guided tours provided during the tourist season.