Loyalist House is a museum and National Historic Site located in Uptown Saint John, New Brunswick. It was the home of the prosperous Merritt family, who occupied it from its completion in 1817 until 1958. It was taken over by the New Brunswick Historical Society in 1958. Its current address is 120 Union Street.
The Merritt family were United Empire Loyalists, originally from Rye, New York. In May of 1783, along with approximately 8,000 other Loyalists, they landed at Parrtown, New Brunswick, having fled the American Revolution. The patriarch of the Saint John Merritts, Thomas Merritt (1729–1821), lived with his wife and seven children in Parrtown (what is now the south end of the City of Saint John). Despite being initially of “modest circumstances,” the family soon became prominent in the city, with the second generation amassing great wealth.
David Daniel Merritt, the third of Thomas’ sons and a wealthy shop keeper, purchased the Loyalist House property, on which construction began in 1810. The house took until 1817 to complete, likely due to the War of 1812. The property was, at that time, just within the city limits, Union Street being its northern border until 1889. As a consequence, the area surrounding the property was sparsely populated, allowing the Merritts to keep livestock well into the later half of the century. While the house was originally at street level, as the city expanded the streets were dug down to lessen the strain on the draught horses coming up Germain Street.
The family owned the house until 1958, and lived in it on and off until the death of Louis Merritt Harrison that same year. The house was then occupied by Mr. Harrison’s housekeeper until the sale of the property to K.C. Irving and an associate in 1958, at which point the New Brunswick Historical Society opened the house as a museum three years later in 1961.