Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Staff Cable Houses: Part of the Telecommunications History of Heart's Content

In February of 2023, Heart's Content, NL and Valentia, Ireland, were added to the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Status, one step closer to recognition ten years in the making. The two sites for the first Transatlantic cable, laid in 1866, connected Europe and North America and enabled quicker and more reliable communication between the two continents. The Anglo-American Cable Company established a permanent cable station in Heart's Content in 1875/76. One of the buildings they constructed was the Cable Staff Houses, a duplex for housing employees of the cable station. 

Photo of the Cable Staff Houses #1 and #2 in 2017.

Built in 1882, the house was designed by J.T. Southcott, a prominent architect in Newfoundland for introducing the Second Empire Style of architecture. 

The duplex has undergone significant restorations since its designation as a Registered Heritage Structure in 1995 to preserve and maintain this building. The Cable Staff House has a mansard roof, an architectural feature associated with the Second Empire Style and Southcott's designs. 

The Cable Staff House Mansard Roof (L): Prior to restoration in mid 1990s (R): Following restorations in 2017.

The building also has decorative eaves brackets, visible in the pictures below.

Before and after pictures of the buildings eaves brackets. (L): Picture prior to restoration in 1990s (R): Photo after restoration in 2017.

Photo of the Cable Staff House's windows. (L): Photo from mid 1990s (R): After restoration in 2017.

Another key design element of the Cable Staff Houses is the variety of styles of windows, some of which are 2/2 while others are larger and multi-paned. The house also has several dormer windows, which were restored in 2018. 

The Cable Staff Houses received the Newfoundland Historic Trust's Southcott Award for Restoration in 1999.

You can learn more about the Cable Staff Houses at the links below:

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