In about 1875 James E. Merrill started a small iron works in Jacksonville after learning the black-smithing trade from his father. Known as the Merrill-Stevens Engineering Co. by the late 1880's, the iron works became one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the South. In 1886 Merrill built this house at 229 Lafayette Street, just a short walk from his iron works on East Bay Street. It exemplifies the Queen Anne style, with a square tower on the southwest corner and an elaborate vergeboard in the north gable. The porch posts, brackets, and spindles reflect the Eastlake style.