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Western Union Cable Building Registered Heritage Structure

Western Union Cable Building, Bay Roberts, NL
Western Union Cable Building, Bay Roberts, NL
Western Union Cable Building, Bay Roberts, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

Built by Western Union Cable Company in 1913, Western Union Cable Building is a two-storey, hip roofed, brick building that employs a variety of Classical Revival elements. It is located on Water Street in Bay Roberts, NL. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Western Union Cable Building was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1998 due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural value.

Western Union Cable Building has historic value due to its association with the Western Union Cable Company. The Western Union Cable Company had an important influence on the Bay Roberts area, creating employment and later becoming involved in community service, sports and the arts in Bay Roberts. The Cable Building was built in 1913 as a cable relay station for telegraph cables between Sennen Cove, Cornwall, England and Coney Island, New York, USA. The building was well guarded during World War I and World War II because of the vital communications link it provided. During World War II, seventy-five percent of all trans-Atlantic cable messages went through Western Union Cable Building. Furthermore, the Cable Building was heavily guarded during this period not only because it held an important communication link between the UK and the US, but also because it housed a direct line between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Western Union Cable Building has aesthetic value as it is a good example of an early 20th century commercial building with Classical Revival elements. The interior rectangular layout of the building is symmetrical, reflecting Classical motifs. The exterior of the building employs a number of Classical elements including a triangular pediment over the main door and the symmetrical 7 bay structure on all facades of the building. The exterior brick of the building was imported from England which is indicative of the affluence of the Western Union Cable Company. The transom window over the main door is typical of commercial buildings of this era. Other architectural features of the Cable Building that contribute to the heritage value of the building include the dormer windows and the vaulted poured concrete roof of the building.

Western Union Cable Building was built near the water to meet the cable that was laid both to Cornwall and New York. After building the Cable Building, Western Union built residences for the employees near the Cable Building including a new street complete with sidewalks, street lights and chestnut trees. The close proximity of Western Union Cable Building to the staff residences reflects the important influence the Western Union Cable Company had on the community of Bay Roberts.

Western Union Cable Building has cultural value because it represents a period of early technological advancements in telecommunications. Beyond its technological contributions, the Western Union Cable Company played a significant social and economic role in the community of Bay Roberts.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Bay Roberts - Western Union Cable Building - FPT 1428”

Character Defining Elements

All exterior elements that are representative of the Classical Revival style including:
-the pediment, entablature, window position etc.

All those original exterior elements including:
-transom window over main door;
-poured concrete hipped roof and two storey height of building;
-single hung 1/1 windows;
-brick size, shape and style;
-running bond on upper storey brick;
-english bond on lower storey brick;
-voussoirs brickwork around windows and details;
-semi-circular dormer windows; and,
-two storey height and form of the building, including the hipped roof.

All those environmental elements including:
-location of building near water; and,
-location near former employee residences on Cable Avenue.

Location and History

Community Bay Roberts
Municipality Town of Bay Roberts
Civic Address Water Street
Construction 1913 - 1913
Architect
Western Union Cable Company
Style Classical Revival
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade
Website Link http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?id=record_detail&fl=0&lg=English&ex=00000326