The property at 31 Leinster Street in Saint John has a bit of a dark history.
The original house dated back to the late 18th century. It was rebuilt in 1878 using the original foundation. In the mid 1980’s an unexpected and generally unexplained find was made in the old oven/furnace in the basement of the old place.
In the 20th century the old house was turned into a restaurant. One of the restaurants patrons however did not come for the cuisine. She came to look at the cellar of the old building. In the cellar she found a old bake oven. At least they thought it was a bake oven.
Upon opening the oven, she noticed what appeared to be a design on the inside of the oven door. Once the grit and dust were cleaned what they saw was a shocker. The image of a young girl complete with bangs and eyelashes stared back at them.
The door was analysed by experts from the New Brunswick Museum. The only plausible explanation is as follows:
The oven was not a bake oven but rather a crematorium. Fairly rich families sometimes cremated the bodies of their departed at home. In the case of 31 Leinster, the original owners, the John Roop family, had a young and sickly daughter who, following her death, was cremated in the basement of the house. The intense heat and light of the fire acted as a lens and etched the image of the young girl onto the door of the oven.
The house is no longer at 31 Leinster Street, having been demolished in 1987, but the door of the oven is on exhibit at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.
by Anna Derks
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