Thomas Rodman Merritt was a local entrepreneur and politician in the mid 1800’s. He was the youngest son of William Hamilton Merritt and wife Catharine Rodman Prendergast. William Merritt himself was a businessman and politician of the area during the early 19th century and one of the founding fathers of the Welland Canal.
Thomas Merritt began building in 1857 and completed the structure in 1863. Merritt hired Samuel Richardson, an English gardener to design the grounds to resemble a large park with pathways surrounded by an extensive garden featuring exotic trees, well maintained lawns, and a hillside garden on the land leading to Twelve Mile Creek.
Upon its completion, it was largely a retreat for the family where he and his wife Mary Benson entertained and held social events. Rodman Hall has come to be known as one of the most significant 19th century structures in the City of St. Catharines.
The “Rodman Hall” estate and lands remained in the possession of Thomas Rodman Merritt until his death on January 11, 1906. Under the terms of Merritt’s will and codicils, his widow Mary received a “life interest” in the property. Mrs. Merritt died in 1908, at which time the ownership of the land was passed to a nephew William Hamilton Merritt.
The house remained in the Merritt family for over a century. At one point, it was used as a private school. It was later divided into apartment units. The St. Catharines and District Art Council purchased the property in 1960 and used it as an art gallery. Additional exhibit space was added in 1960 and 1975. These additions were carefully designed so that the original look of the building was maintained. For the most part, the interior and exterior of the house maintain their original features and appearance.
Brock University acquired Rodman Hall in 2003 and continued to use it as an art gallery.
Nino Donatelli a local builder with a penchant for restoring and repurposing older buildings purchased the property in 2020 and began a three year project to restore the estate back to its original grandeur. Today we see the benefits of those renovations in Rodman Hall Boutique Hotel and events Centre.