The Four Sisters

31-37 Temperance St

Just before Duckworth Street turns into Signal Hill Road, four red-trimmed stone houses follow Temperance Street down towards the Harbour. The lonely dwellings have long been surrounded by rumours of strange passageways and haunted tunnels.

Commonly referred to as the Four Sisters, the houses were built in the late 1800’s by Samuel Garrett, the stonemason and designer responsible for constructing nearby Cabot Tower. Built from the Tower’s surplus sandstone and slate, they were intended as wedding gifts for Garrett’s four daughters. But only two of the sisters married, leaving the other two houses to be rented until grandchildren could take up residence. In 1982, the last residing relative passed away, and the last of the Four Sisters left the Garrett family.

As it turns out, the rumours aren’t so far off the mark. The houses were built with connecting interior doorways, so that the daughters could visit each other whatever the weather. (Sadly, these were later walled over.) According to a 2005 article in The Independent, the houses indeed sit on top of a tunnel—thought to have carried fresh water all the way from Quidi Vidi Lake. And while not exactly haunted, reports of mysterious sewer gases emanating from the tunnel have played a part in keeping three of four houses vacant for over 20 years.

– Lesley Thompson
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