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Apothecary Hall Registered Heritage Structure

Apothecary Hall, St. John's, NL
Apothecary Hall, St. John's, NL
Apothecary Hall, St. John's, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

Built in 1922, Apothecary Hall in St. John’s, NL is a two storey, cast concrete building designed by John E. Hoskins for Peter O’Mara. Built in the Art Nouveau style, Apothecary Hall housed a drugstore until 1986. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Apothecary Hall was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1988 due to its aesthetic and historic value.

Apothecary Hall has aesthetic value as it is a good example of an early 20th century commercial building in downtown St. John’s. Purpose built for use as a drugstore, the building is an amalgam of the Art Nouveau style and the Art Deco style employing some of the key style elements of each - including the rectangular design of the Art Nouveau style and the straight lines and vivid colours of the Art Deco style.

Apothecary Hall also has aesthetic value for its association with well-known local architect John E. Hoskins. Hoskins was born in St. John’s and during his career he was involved in the design and construction of many of the larger buildings in St. John’s, including additions to the General Hospital and renovations to the Basilica of St. John the Baptist.

Apothecary Hall has historic value as an intact example of an early 20th century drugstore. The interior of the building has been relatively unaltered and retains its original style as an early 20th century drugstore. This building is also historically valuable for its association with the O’Mara family. The O’Mara family is well known in St. John’s as a family of pharmacists. Peter O’Mara was particularly influential as a founding member of the Newfoundland Pharmaceutical Society. Peter O’Mara opened a drugstore at 486 Water Street in 1890 but by 1922 he felt he needed a new building for his operation and Apothecary Hall was built at 488 Water Street for this purpose. The building was owned and operated by the O’Mara family under the name “Peter O’Mara’s Drugstore” from 1922 until it closed in 1986.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - Apothecary Hall - FPT 1622"

Character Defining Elements

All those elements that are representative of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs including:
-number of storeys;
-chimney number, style and placement;
-concrete construction;
-rectangular design;
-size, style, trim and placement of wooden windows;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior wooden doors;
-vivid exterior paint colours, and;
-dimension, location and orientation of building.

All those elements that reflect the commercial use of the building, including:
- transom windows;
- large shop windows;
- recessed doorway;
- mortar and pestle decoration on front façade, and;
- interior shelving, hardware, tin ceilings and counters.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 488 Water Street
Construction 1922 - 1922
John E. Hoskins
M&E Kennedy Contractors
Style Art Deco
Building Plan Rectangular Short Façade
Website Link