Tuesday, February 09, 2021 - 8:45 AM

50 Bonaventure Avenue

50 Bonaventure Avenue

In 1905, a young lawyer decided to build a new home for his growing family. He chose a spot on Bonaventure Avenue, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 2020, Council designated 50 Bonaventure Avenue as a Heritage Building.

The wooden two and a half storey home, located at the intersection of Bonaventure Avenue and Fleming Street was designated because for both its aesthetic and historic values.

50 Bonaventure Avenue is a good surviving example of an early 20th century Second Empire single-detached dwelling. Features of this style include two and a half storey construction, a mansard roof, size, shape and placement of windows, peaked dormers, wide trims and an enclosed porch. 

Although the structure has been renovated over the years, the original character of the building has remained generally unchanged.

50 Bonaventure Avenue has an interesting history.

Charles O’Neill Conroy, K.C., O.B.E, built the dwelling around 1905 when this area was the northern fringe of St. John’s. O’Neill Conroy was born in Dublin, Ireland, January 24, 1871 to Judge James and Elizabeth (O’Neill) Conroy who relocated to Newfoundland when Charles was about 18 months old. Although he studied in Manchester and London, O’Neill Conroy returned to Newfoundland where he was called to the bar in 1900, becoming solicitor, and Director and General Counsel for Reid Newfoundland Company, Limited. 

Charles married Mary Agnes Weathers in 1899 and had five sons and three daughters. They named their new home on Bonaventure “Raheen” which is an Irish word meaning “A People’s Place.”

O’Neill Conroy lived on Bonaventure Avenue until his death in 1946. He willed the building to the Presentation Sisters, however the Presentation Sisters did not acquire the building until 1976. Other occupants of the home included his son Louis, a physician and surgeon, and David Rudolph Thistle, M.B.E, a printer and publisher. Thistle had the commission as King’s Printer and founded the Newfoundland Gazette in 1924.

When the Presentation Sisters moved into the building, it was used not only as their residence but as a place of worship, a meeting space for community leaders and a refuge for families needing help and children needing respite. The Presentation Sisters later sold the property to Georgestown Inn, who opened the building as a bed and breakfast.