Our Historic Setting | Renaissance College | UNB

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Renaissance College
UNB Fredericton

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Our historic setting

Renaissance College is housed just off the main UNB campus in a location that embodies its objectives and spirit: a small, welcoming Victorian mansion. This provides the perfect setting for group-based classes and discussions amidst ornately trimmed verandahs, original wood-panelled interiors, etched glass windows, hand-carved fireplaces and a beautiful staircase.

Maggie Jean Chestnut House

The building Renaissance College is housed in is called the Maggie Jean Chestnut House, located in Fredericton’s historic district and only a 10-minute walk from the UNB campus.

The Maggie Jean Chestnut building has undergone extensive renovations to suit the needs of Renaissance College.

Maggie Jean Chestnut house and barn. UA PC 9 no. 22 (2).

Other names: Maggie Jean, MJC, Carriage House, Renaissance College

Civic address: 811 Charlotte St.

Opened for use: September 1949 (UNB)

Official opening: 28 October 1949 as women's residence; 21 October 2000 as Renaissance College

Architect: Ashley A. Colter (contractor) converted the private home into a residence; Douglas Jonsson, provincial architect (addition in 1959).

Named for: Maggie Jean Chestnut (BA 1927), who advanced the cause of a women’s residence and was a prominent member of the Alumnae Society.

Renovations, changes and additions

During the summer it was purchased, it was converted from a home into a residence-style building in 1949. Over 1956 - 1957 the building was enlarged with an addition which connected the “Barn” in the rear of the lot to the main building.

Repairs and renovations to the wiring and fire safety took place in 1982. The building was renovated in the late 1990s in anticipation of housing the newly created Renaissance College.

The first residence (off-campus) for women at UNB.

The house was originally built by the Chestnut family and then owned by the Bliss family until they sold it to the Bank of Montreal, which used the building to house the local branch managers.

The building was bought by Lord Beaverbrook in the late 1940s, who then donated the house to the Associated Alumnae on the condition that they pay for the necessary renovations and equipping the building for use as a residence.

'The Barn' (carriage house) was converted by the Alumnae Society in May 1950 into rooms, bathrooms and reception halls.

The illuminated plaque (scroll) was unveiled by Muriel Farris Baird past president of the Alumnae Society on 8 October 1957. The scroll was illuminated by Dr. C.A. MacVey and was a gift from Annie Tibbits Chestnut.

Muriel Farris Baird unveiling the illuminated scroll at Maggie Jean Chestnut Residence, Oct. 1957.

Plaque inscription

"This property, including land and buildings, was donated to the Associated Alumnae of the University of New Brunswick for a girls' residence by Lord Beaverbrook in April 1949. This house was altered and equipped by the Alumnae and friends and named, at His Lordship's request, in memory of a graduate, Maggie Jean Chestnut. It was opened in September 1949. Another unit, The Barn, was opened in 1950. The Alumnae presented the property to the University in 1952, by which it is now administered."

In 1979 the residence became co-ed.

The house was closed between 1998 and 2000 while being renovated and reopened as the home of the Renaissance College while it continued to act as a student residence.

Sources:

  • Montague, Susan. A Pictorial History of the University of New Brunswick. University of New Brunswick, 1992, p. 134.
  • UA Case 122; Section 3; Maggie Jean Chestnut House.
  • UNB Scrapbook (UA RG 100), September 1949 - August 1950.