Gower Street United Church was built in the wake of the Great Fire of 1892. Built of brick, this church was designed by British architect Elijah Hoole in the Romanesque Revival style. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Gower Street United Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1995 for its aesthetic and historic value. Gower Street United Church has aesthetic value as an excellent example of the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. Many Romanesque Revival features have been employed in this church such as rounded arches in the windows and doors, arched corbels under the eaves, and the rounded towers with conical roofs. It is an unusual style for ecclesiastical architecture in St. John’s and is in great contrast to the style of the nearby Anglican Cathedral and Roman Catholic Basilica. Gower Street United Church was designed by well-known British architect, Elijah Hoole – the son of a Methodist missionary to South India. Elijah Hoole specialized in building Methodist churches and urban workers dwellings in England. He also designed George Street United Church in St. John’s. The interior of Gower Street United Church has aesthetic value as it has remained largely unaltered since its construction in 1896. The interior features a hammerbeam roof as well as original woodwork in the pews and many of the railings. Furthermore, the iron grillwork in the loft railings dates to the construction of the church. While the stained glass windows of the church are not original, there are a number of colored glass windows inside the church that are original. These windows are mainly transom windows and sidelights. Gower Street United Church has further aesthetic value for its environmental setting. Located in the downtown area, Gower Street United Church is one of a number of buildings of varying faiths in this area. Together, these buildings create an ecclesiastical cluster in downtown St. John’s. Gower Street United Church has historic value both for the age of the structure and the permanence of its congregation. Dating to 1815, Gower Street United Church is the oldest Methodist congregation in St. John’s. This church is the fourth building to house this congregation and has lasted the longest of the four. This church was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1892 – which destroyed much of the built environment of downtown St. John’s. The period after the Great Fire was one of great rebuilding and Gower Street United Church is an example of this reconstruction effort. Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John’s – Gower Street United Church – FPT 1484”
Character Defining Elements
All those elements that are representative of the Romanesque Revival design including: -rounded arches; -round towers with conical roofs; -arched corbels; -hammerbeam roof; -interior woodwork including pews and railings; -colored glass windows in interior transoms and sidelights; -iron grillwork in loft railings; -red brick façade; -terra cotta ornamental panels on exterior; -decorative exterior brickwork; -iron columns supporting gallery; -building massing and layout; and, -size, location, and orientation of church.
Location and History
City of St. John's
099 Queen's Road
19700101 - 19700101
Elijah Hoole, Mr. Brookfield of Halifax, Nova Scotia