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St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church Registered Heritage Structure

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, St. George's, NL
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, St. George's, NL
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, St. George's, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church is a wooden shingled church built in the Classical Revival style to serve the Roman Catholic congregation of St. George’s, NL. Built in 1898, St. Joseph’s is a landmark in the community of St. George’s. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2000 due to its architectural, historic and cultural value.

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church is architecturally valuable as an excellent example of the Classical Revival style used in an ecclesiastical building. Despite its rural setting, St. Joseph’s is very elaborate and ornate employing many typical Classical style elements such as Corinthian pilasters and triangular pediments. The exterior also features a number of unusual features that contribute to its architectural value. For instance, the front façade features a working clock that is connected to the bell in the circular, dome roofed bell tower. This bell tolls every hour with the clock. The symmetrical façade of the building is also characteristic of Classical buildings. The interior of the church is also illustrative of fine ecclesiastical architecture and the Classical style. The cruciform layout of the church as well as the symmetry of the pews and the arcading on both sides of the nave are typical of Catholic churches during this period. The interior unpainted woodwork is very elaborate as is the altar piece. Furthermore, Classical elements are used throughout in pilasters and pediments as well as the large and evenly spaced windows in the nave.

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was built at the turn of the twentieth century to serve the needs of the Catholic community of the St. George’s area. This church served as the Cathedral for St. George’s Parish from its opening in 1904 until 1946 when the See, the official seat of the Bishop, was moved to Corner Brook.

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church is also historically valuable for its association with Bishop Neil McNeill. Bishop McNeill served as the Bishop at St. Joseph’s until 1910 when he transferred to Vancouver and then Toronto. Prior to coming to Newfoundland, McNeill was the first President of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. McNeill was also an accomplished architect, builder and blacksmith. In fact, McNeill designed and helped build St. Joseph’s Church. McNeill built other buildings across the country but St. Joseph’s Church stands as a monument to his work in Eastern Canada.

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church is culturally valuable as a landmark in the community of St. George’s. Located on a small hill, the church occupies a prominent location in the community overlooking the harbour. The prominent location of the church is indicative of the importance of the Catholic church in the community.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. George's - St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church – FPT 1417”

Character Defining Elements

All those exterior elements that are representative of the ecclesiastical Classical Revival style of architecture, including:
-use of pilasters, pediments;
-symmetrical façade;
-rounded arch windows and symmetrical placement of windows on façade;
-wooden construction;
-clock on main façade;
-round, dome roofed bell tower;
-eaves bracketing;
-stained glass windows;
-wooden shingles as exterior sheathing;
-round windows in bell tower; and,
-apse at east end of church;

All those interior elements that are representative of the ecclesiastical Classical Revival style of architecture, including:
-interior woodwork;
-symmetry of interior; and,
-cruciform layout.

All elements that define the building as a landmark including:
-location of church within community;
-uninhibited view of harbour.

Location and History

Community St. George's
Municipality Town of St. George's
Civic Address Main Street
Significant 1898 - 1904
Architect
Bishop Neil McNeill
Builder
Bishop Neil McNeill
Style Classical Revival
Building Plan Cruciform with Apse
Website Link http://www.townofstgeorges.com/attractions.php