Crow's Nest Officer's Club Registered Heritage Structure
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Description of Historic Place
The Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club is housed in a four storey brick building that originally functioned as a warehouse. Located on Water Street in downtown St. John’s, NL, the Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club is a memorial to the naval war efforts of World War II. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1990 due to its historic and cultural values.
In the early 1940s, Captain Edward Mainguy saw the need for a seagoing officer’s club in St. John’s, and through his efforts the Crow’s Nest was opened in 1942. The Crow’s Nest served as a place for men of the allied navies to relax, drink with friends and escape the horrors of war. The Crow’s Nest is historically valuable for its association with the naval war effort.
Originally named the Seagoing Officer’s Club, the space for the club was obtained by Colonel Leonard Outerbridge and his wife Lady Dorothy Outerbridge. This space was located on the fourth floor of an old warehouse on Water Street near the harbour that could only be reached by a 59 step staircase at the side of the building. The Club quickly became famous among navy men as a place to relax and meet with friends. Moreover, it also became a place for young men to leave a memento of themselves before heading out to sea. Soon after the club opened, handwritten messages were being left on the walls, ceilings and floors or wherever the men could find space. Eventually Captain Mainguy gave each vessel four square feet of wall space to decorate anyway they wanted. There is also a variety of military memorabilia throughout the club including a periscope from a German U-Boat captured in Bay Bulls in 1945. These decorations remain in the club today and are a documentation of the history of the Crow’s Nest.
When the Battle of the Atlantic ended in 1945, the Seagoing Officer’s Club closed its doors on June 13, 1945. With the return of thousands of Newfoundlanders from overseas, there was a movement in 1946 to open a Newfoundland Officers Club and in June of 1946 the Seagoing Officer’s Club in the “Old Butler Building” on Water Street was reopened as the Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club. Today, the Club remains a tribute to the vitality and humour that was essential to survive the horrors of war on the North Atlantic.
Located on the fourth floor of the “Old Butler Building” on Water Street in St. John’s, the Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club is culturally valuable as a memorial to the men who served in naval forces during World War II. The extensive collection of memorabilia inside the club is also culturally valuable because the artwork created by the members evokes a sense of time and place. The ideas and themes expressed in the artwork left by the seamen are a cultural expression of their involvement in WWII and their collective experiences.
According to the oral tradition of club members, there are two stories relating to how the Crow’s Nest got its name. The 59 rickety steps leading to the club quickly became famous and it is often said that the height and view from the Club are reminiscent of a ship’s crow’s nest. The second explanation credits Lieutenant Colonel Pete Stevens for the naming of the club, noting that his first comment about the club was that it was “a snug little crow’s nest.”
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - Crow's Nest Officer's Club - FPT 1475”
Character Defining Elements
All elements that define the building's 20th century Officer's Club design including:
-access to club via outside staircase;
-size, dimensions and location of building;
-handwritten messages and drawings on walls;
-various military memorabilia;
-German U-Boat periscope providing a view of St. John’s Harbour; and,
-name of club on exterior bronze plaque.
Location and History
||City of St. John's
||088 Water Street
||1892 - 1892
||Rectangular Short Façade