POWER, THOMAS (1845-1934)
POWER, THOMAS, architect and building contractor; b. Bathurst, 22 Jun c1845, s/o Thomas Power and Katherine Kennedy; m. Mary Lawlor, of Newcastle; d. there, 3 May 1934.
Thomas Power was the son of Irish Catholic immigrants who moved to Newcastle from Bathurst when he was a boy. By the time he was eighteen he was a skilled carpenter. It was said that he worked first at ship construction. Later he was a leading designer and builder of both public structures and private homes, many of which are still standing. Miramichi Catholic churches which he is credited with erecting, and may also have designed in some cases, include the original St Mary's, Newcastle (1874), the Most Pure Heart of Mary, Barnaby River (1884), St Raphael's, Blackville (1892) (which was built from a design supplied by Patrick Troy), and St Samuel's, Douglastown (1901). Catholic churches which he is credited with both designing and building include St Thomas, Red Bank (1907); St James, Sevogle (1911), and St Joachim's, Eel Ground (1915). He also built Catholic churches at Tracadie and Bathurst, and although he was no longer active as a builder he "donated" the plans for St Stephen's Presbyterian Church at Sunny Corner (1930).
Newcastle buildings erected by Power include St Mary's Rectory (1884), the former St Mary's Convent and Academy (1895), and the former Newcastle Fire Hall (1898). He designed the Miramichi Hotel (1904), and although he did not build it, he did some of the finish work on it. He was not the contractor for the Harkins Academy annex (1909) or the County courthouse (1913), but he was engaged as the construction supervisor for both projects. He later built the Buie School (1918) and the Stothart Block (1918). Private residences erected by him included "one of the finest homes in Newcastle" for David J. Buckley (1916) and the "handsome" brick residence of G. Gilmour Stothart (1920).
"A man of slight stature who led a simple, frugal home life," Power was a perfectionist in his work and would rather dismantle a partially-constructed building at his own expense than leave a serious error uncorrected. Although he was exceptionally active in the building field, he suffered severely from rheumatism for much of his life. His wife, Mary Lawlor, predeceased him by thirty-two years. Several daughters and sons survived him in 1934, including his son Francis K. Power, who was his successor in business.
[b] census (day and month) [d] Leader 4 May 1934 / Advocate 7 Sep 1892, 4 Jan 1905, 9 Oct 1907, 23 Sep 1908, 25 Oct 1911, 19 Oct 1916, 10 Jan 1918, 23 May 1918, 9 May 1934; Arbuckle (re. courthouse); Commercial World 6 Dec 1945, 27 May 1948; Davidson Collection (Box 18); Leader 22 Jun 1906, 28 Aug 1914, 24 Apr 1953, 8 Jul 1977 (article by Charles Perry)
Some of the dates shown in parentheses above are actual completion dates of the buildings, while others are approximations.