on the two properties that were to become the Homeport was completed in 1858. George Roberts built the property
at #80 and his brother David built the twin home at #60 Douglas Avenue
on a choice hilltop of land overlooking the harbour and the shipyards
where thier family fortunes were made. They maintained a close
family association and built nearly identical houses in the rambling,
informal, Italianate style popular at the time.
The Messrs. Roberts were grandsons of United Empire Loyalists from Central
New Brunswick but the family's land grant was small and of poor
quality and could not support a third generation growing family.
David and George moved to Saint John, and joined the growing ranks
of business, industry and the professions. They became successful
merchants and lumbermen who turned to ship building as their fortunes
grew and eventually established a large fleet of vessels. In the publication, Saint John Ships and
Their Builders, the Roberts Fleet was described as "more truly a Saint
John fleet than any others operating in the last three decades
of the 19th century". The Roberts prospered and maintained
their Loyalist ties with a large volume of the family business
carried on in England so in 1866 George relocated to Liverpool
and David continued on in "The Colonies". It is from
this rich maritime history and close ties to the sea Ralph and
Karen have drawn inspiration for the Homeport Historic B&B/Inn.
The property at #80 was sold to a prominent local Druggist, Mr.
T.B.Barker who ran a shop at #35 King Street. Several old bottles
with the Barker family name are displayed in the house along with
receipts and papers, dating back to the 1870's and 80's, that
were found during renovations. This house had another brush with
fame when, for a brief time, it became the family home of the
celebrated Dentist Painless Parker. This dental renegade became
a millionaire in New York in the 1890's with his carnival style
painless dentistry medicine show. Several other long term owners
keep the house as a single family home and in generally good repair
until the 1980's.
The house at #60 did not fare as well. It was subdivided into several
apartment units and suffered greatly from neglect and decay for
many years. Both homes where acquired by a developer in the late
1980's with the intention of tearing them down and for a new development.
In the process the #60 property was abandoned and left open to
the elements for three years. The developer fortunately did not
get to realize his destructive plan and the two houses where sold
at auction to separate buyers in 1994. The #80 Douglas Ave. property
was in good repair and was purchased, restored and converted to
an Inn in 1997 by the current owners Ralph and Karen Holyoke.
They then purchased the property at #60 Douglas Ave. in 2000 and
spent over a year to complete restoration and join the two houses
with a spectacular new entrance and Reception Hall.