Somerville House

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Building Name: Somerville House

Somerville House. UA PC 9a no. 2 (4). Photo credit: Harvey Studios Ltd.

Other Names: Summer Villa, the “Old Fisher Place”.

Civic Address: 238 Waterloo Row

Sod Turning: N/A

Cornerstone Laying: N/A

Opened for Use:

Official Opening:

Architect: Unknown

Named for: James Somerville, the first principal of the College of New Brunswick (1820-1828).

Renovations/changes/additions: Re-built after a fire in 1886. Renovated in 1959 to be used as the UNB Law School in Fredericton. Renovated from an office to a residence for the Lieutenant-Governor in the 80s. In 2003 the entire building was renovated, including new walls, wiring, floors, fixtures, and heating. During the summer of 2012 heating pipes were upgraded and two porches were repaired.

Notes: Originally built by the Right Hon. John Murray Bliss in 1816. Charles Fisher, Registrar of King's College, who owned the house as of 1845, named it Somerville House in honour of UNB's first president, James Somerville. From 1867-1886 there were several fires, the last of which destroyed the house. Fisher’s widow had a new house constructed and it continued as Somerville House. The property was bequeathed to UNB in the will of Fisher’s daughter, Frances Amelia Fisher, in 1905, but was quickly sold to Charles H. Thomas in 1909. The building then passed hands to Laura B. Vanbuskirk, who bought Somerville House in 1946. Lord Beaverbrook purchased the building in 1948 and used it as his private residence while visiting Fredericton. Beaverbrook later donated Somerville House to UNB as the official residence of the president, and it was used by Presidents Albert Trueman (1952-53) and Colin MacKay (1953-1956). In 1959 the Law School moved in, where it remained until 1968, when the Faculty of Law was moved into Ludlow Hall. In 1973 Somerville House was sold to the Government of New Brunswick. From [ca.1980]-1999 The Lieutenant-Governors of New Brunswick resided in Somerville House. In 2003 Warren McKenzie and Julia MacLauchlan purchased the building from the provincial government and after a major restoration, donated Somerville House to UNB as the official residence of the president in 2009.


  • UA Case 123; Section 3, Box 2; Somerville House.
  • UA Case 122, Section 3; Chronological Listing of Buildings

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