St. George's Courthouse Registered Heritage Structure
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Description of Historic Place
St. George’s Courthouse is a two-storey Second Empire style building located in St. George’s, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
St. George’s Courthouse was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001 because of its architectural and historic values.
Architecturally, St. George’s Courthouse is valuable because it is a good representation of the style of judicial buildings constructed throughout Newfoundland during the early 20th century. Most feel that this building was probably designed under Superintendent William Henry Churchill, who was also responsible for designing other similar courthouses in Newfoundland including the one in Greenspond. Built in the Second Empire style, this building is unusual in the fact that it is only two-storeys tall whereas other courthouses built in Newfoundland during that time were a standard three- storeys. Though the court rooms were large in size, the lack of a third-storey is reflective of the small size of the community.
St. George’s Courthouse is historically valuable because of its associations with the improvements to the justice system in Newfoundland and also the development of the community of St. Georges. This building was one of the first courts to be set up on the West Coast and, additionally, it was equipped to house prisoners while awaiting trial. Originally the courthouse contained, in addition to courtrooms, a post office and a customs office. In 1943 the layout was drastically changed in order to accommodate the Constabulary, a drug room, a treatment room and offices, resulting in the downsizing of the main courtroom. Nine years later, the jail was replaced with a clinic. These changes speak of the increasing need for additional services in St. Georges during the mid 20th century. As of today, the courthouse serves as an Indian Band Council Office which is significant to the people of St. George's due to the fact that this was the location of the first Mi’kmaq settlement in Newfoundland.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. George's - St. George's Courthouse – FPT 1721”
Character Defining Elements
All original features which relate to the age and construction of the building in the Newfoundland interpretation of the Second Empire style, including:
-location and style of dormer windows;
-ornate decoration including eaves bracketing, large window trim, central pediment, etc.;
-narrow wooden clapboard;
-original window openings in regards to shape and location;
-original doors and location of openings;
-large corner boards;
-building height, massing and dimensions.
All interior features that reflect the original intended use of the building, including:
-ceiling height of the top floor; and
-existing jail doors and hardware in the lower portion of the building.
Location and History