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St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church Registered Heritage Structure

St. John the Evangelist Church, Topsail, CBS, NL
St. John the Evangelist Church, Topsail, CBS, NL
St. John the Evangelist Church, Topsail, CBS, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church is a wooden, Gothic Revival vernacular church on a quiet road in Topsail, Conception Bay South, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1986 because it has aesthetic and historic value.

St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church has aesthetic value because it is a vernacular interpretation of a nineteenth century Gothic Revival church. The wooden construction is typical of Anglican churches built in outport Newfoundland during the nineteenth century. However, the interior is distinctive because neither the walls, ceilings, floors nor pews were ever stained or painted. The pristine state of the structure provides valuable insight into the materials and techniques used in constructing the church.

The exterior of the church gives the impression of a cozy, community-oriented building. Built with narrow wooden clapboard, this church has a bell tower with a spire and Celtic cross finial. The steeply pitched gable roof is in keeping with Gothic style, and the trefoil appliqués on the windows add to this. A large, stained glass, peaked window graces the eastern wall, where the altar is located. Entrance to the church is gained through the bell tower through wooden plank doors. There are eaves brackets on the tower and other than the trefoil appliqués they are the only decoration on the church.

St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church has further aesthetic value due to its environmental setting. It is located within a cemetery on Spruce Hill Road - the same road on which the Registered Heritage Structure, The Hermitage, is located.

St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church has historic value for several reasons. The church was constructed in 1860-61, making it one of the oldest buildings in Topsail. It was used for over 100 years by the Anglican community in Topsail and has changed very little in that time. Though the building stopped regular ecumenical services in 1974, the church is open to the public regularly, and can still be used for private services such as wedding and flower services. The church was also a setting for an episode of the CBC television program Pigeon Inlet.

The church is also historically valuable because it is associated with several prominent Newfoundlanders, including influential public figures James Bancroft, founder of the Newfoundland Teacher’s Association, and Sir Edgar R. Bowring, politician.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Conception Bay South (Topsail) - St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church – FPT 1675”

Character Defining Elements

All those elements that are reflective of the Gothic Revival style of architecture including:
- bell tower;
- narrow wooden clapboard;
- trefoil Gothic appliqué;
- Steeply pitched gable roof;
- Celtic cross finial.

All those original features, including:
-wooden plank door;
-all original interior details in unstained/unpainted condition.

All those exterior physical details such as:
- orientation;
- dimensions;
- location within the cemetery;
- general massing;
- window and door openings.

Location and History

Community Conception Bay South (Topsail)
Municipality Town of Conception Bay South
Civic Address Church Terrace, Topsail
Construction 1860 - 1861
Architect
James Harvey
Builder
S. Churchill, A. Churchill, W. Allen
Style Gothic Revival
Building Plan Rectangular Short Façade
Website Link http://www.stjohntheevangelistnl.com/