Q: Why is your business called Jellybean Row?
A: Jellybean Row is the name of our business, but it is also the nickname that describes the colourful Victorian row houses of downtown St. John’s. We celebrate those houses with original artwork that is produced in a variety of media, from plaque mounts to stretched canvas to mailboxes, and so much more (as you will discover on this site). Our products are popular among anyone who has experienced downtown St. John’s – including tourists, locals and convention goers. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living “away” also love our works. Our wall hangings are popular for three reasons:
- They are a souvenir or memento of St. John’s, a daily reminder of your attachment to one of the prettiest cities in the world;
- They inject bold colour and a visual centrepiece in modern interior colour schemes, which usually are dominated by subdued colours;
- They make you smile every time you walk into the room.
Q: Do you have a shop and gallery downtown?
A: We did, but were forced to close in September of 2020 due to Covid. However, our products are still available online, we ship anywhere and do offer local delivery.
Q: Is Jellybean Row a street? How do we find it?
A: Many visitors assume it is a specific street but that is not correct; the term describes the entire downtown hillside, beginning at Duckworth Street and running to the top of the hill and beyond, as well as further west. As a general rule, anywhere you see row houses you will also see brightly painted houses. It is more a state of mind than a specific place!
Q: What is the history of Jellybean Row? Why do they paint the houses in such bright colours?
A: That’s a two-part story. It starts when most of the city burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1892. They rebuilt in a hurry so most of the downtown houses were built in 1893. That was the Victorian era so they do have that distinctive look.
However, by the 1970s the houses had become pretty run down. A local heritage group raised some money, bought a house on Gower Street (at Victoria) and gave it a full renovation. They also painted it in bright colours. They sold that house at a profit and then bought the house next to it, doing the same thing but painting it in a different colour. They were working their way up Gower Street, creating this very unusual demonstration block of how the city could look. And it caught on. People soon started fixing up their homes and painting them in bright colours. And it has been growing ever since. Most other North American cities have demolished their heritage houses to make way for new buildings, but the people of St. John’s have been highly protective of their downtown built heritage. As a result, the city is now the envy of other cities in North America.
Q: Do you have colour police who supervise colour selection?
A: No. There are no regulations regarding colour choice. It is a free-for-all. Which is part of the fun. However, there are laws governing heritage preservation. For example, you must preserve the architectural integrity of the building and aren’t allowed to replace wood siding with vinyl, for example. Same with windows – you can’t put in vinyl replacements. We do protect our built heritage fairly vigorously.
Q: We were told that they use bright colours so that the fishermen could find their way home in the fog.
A: No, that is a myth. It’s one of many you will hear!