The Nain Moravian Church is an early twentieth-century wooden church building with a low-pitch gable roof and a square bell tower with a helm roof. It is located near the shore and community dock in Nain, Labrador and is a dominant structure on the landscape. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
The Nain Moravian Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2009 for its aesthetic and historic value.
The Nain Moravian Church has aesthetic value for its typical Moravian church architecture. Made of wood the church is a one-storey, low pitched roof structure with a square steeple topped by a helm roof (a roof with four sloping sides, rising from four gables, joining at the apex like a pyramid). A row of rectangular, wooden, six-pane windows extends down both sides of the church and its only ornamentation is on the front facade, achieved by the use of differing window sizes, patterns and shapes. The interior of the church is also aesthetically valuable for its open beam construction, use of wood panelling and relatively simple style and lack of ornamentation. The use of wood buildings in the area signified a sense of permanence in a land used by migratory Inuit. The Moravians were known to spend extended periods of their ministry at their chosen missions; sometimes up to 30-40 years. They spent a great deal of time and effort in building whole complexes such as the one in Nain, which contains wood buildings like the church, stores, outbuildings and residences.
The Nain Moravian Church has historic value for its associations with the Moravian Mission, established in Czechoslovakia in the middle of the fifteenth century. Its worldwide missionary work started about 1730 and it became one of the most successful foreign missions in the world. In 1771 a ship sailed from London to Labrador with 14 brethren and sisters (three married couples and eight single men). They founded Nain and in 1776 established a mission at Okak (1776 to 1919). In both cases, the missionaries gave gifts to the Inuit to ratify their occupation of the land. A mission at Hebron was set up (1830 to 1959), with Zoar (1864 or 1866 to 1889), Ramah (1871 to 1908), Makkovik (1896) and Killinek (1905 to 1925). When fire consumed the original 1771 church in Nain in 1921, it was rebuilt using timber and materials from the depopulated settlements of Okak and Ramah.
The Nain Moravian Church has further historic value for its associations with a number of significant persons who were connected to the mission itself, such as Jens Haven, founder of the 1771 mission station; P. Hettasch, S. Hettasch, and W. F. Peacock who were well-known missionaries; well-known elders such as Jerry Sillett and Martin Martin; and Captain Bob Bartlett and Sir Wilfred Grenfell, who were noted on a visitor guest book. The Nain Moravian Church also has historic value for its association with the Moravian mission, having been credited with documenting much of Northern Labrador’s history and its significant efforts in the preservation of the Inuktitut language.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Nain – Nain Moravian Church – FPT 3261”
Character Defining Elements
All those original architectural elements of the exterior and interior, including:
-low-pitch gable roof;
-narrow, wooden clapboard;
-wooden, six-pane windows, their sizes, locations, styles;
-wooden, six-pane peaked windows near the steeple;
-long, narrow, three-pane windows located within the steeple;
-open, arched windows and diamond-shaped windows in the steeple;
-lack of ornamentation and prevalence of simple, clean lines both on the exterior of the structure and on the interior, including the open beam construction and wood panelling, and;
-location on the landscape as a cultural and physical landmark.
Location and History
Town of Nain
9 Ikajuktauvik Road
19700101 - 19700101
Rectangular Short Façade