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Christ Church Registered Heritage Structure

Christ Church, Quidi Vidi, St. John's, NL
Christ Church, Quidi Vidi, St. John's, NL
Christ Church, Quidi Vidi, St. John's, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

Christ Church is a modest, 19th-century, Gothic Revival wooden church, based on a modified cruciform plan with a side tower. It is located on a fenced lot, on a steep hill overlooking the gut in Quidi Vidi, St. John’s, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Christ Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2003 due to its historic and aesthetic value.

Christ Church has historic value due to its age. It was opened on November 9, 1842 as a chapel of ease for St. Thomas' Anglican Church. The present tower and bell were added around 1890. In 1930, New York film producer Varik Frissell used the interior of this church for the final scene of his historic film The Viking - the first sound feature film made in present-day Canada. Modern transportation made the use of this chapel unnecessary and in 1966 the Anglican Synod decided to demolish the building. The Newfoundland Historic Trust was formed to save the little church. The exterior was restored and the interior was renovated. Since 1971 Christ Church has had several uses and it is now a private residence.

Christ Church has aesthetic value for its design, form and materials. Its original design by James Purcell, an architect and builder, was based on a cruciform plan with Gothic Revival detailing - an architectural form favoured by the Anglican Church from the mid 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Christ Church was modified by a series of additions in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the addition of a bell tower in 1890. Its wooden construction, scale, plan and evolution are consistent with churches constructed around the province in the same era.

Christ Church has further aesthetic value as it is representative of the architecture of an early 19th-century outport village. This type of architecture is rarely seen today in a modern urban centre. The village of Quidi Vidi, in which Christ Church is located, is rapidly being encroached upon by urban development, and Christ Church serves as a reminder of the types of buildings that once comprised the landscape of the village.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - Christ Church - FPT 1761"

Character Defining Elements

All those key elements which relate to the vernacular Gothic Revival style, including:
-the cruciform plan of the church body under a crossed gable roof;
-the three-bay facade with central door flanked by pointed arch windows under drip mouldings;
-square side tower, capped by a spire; and,
-elements typical of outport construction, notably its relatively small size, the entry through a storm porch, and its interpretation in wood of traditionally masonry construction with elements such as wooden Gothic-Revival style detailing and clapboard siding.

Location and History

Community St. John's (Quidi Vidi)
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 086 Quidi Vidi Village Road
Construction 1842 - 1842
James Purcell
James Purcell
Style Gothic Revival
Building Plan Cruciform