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St. Joseph's Chapel (Blackhead Chapel) - City of St. John's Heritage Site

St. Joseph's Chapel, Blackhead, St. John's
Interior photo, St. Joseph's Chapel, Blackhead
Interior detail, St. Joseph's Chapel, Blackhead

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area

Description of Historic Place

St. Joseph’s Chapel is a small, wooden one-room school house located in Blackhead, on the outskirts of St. John’s, but within that city's municipal boundaries. St. Joseph’s Chapel was built as a school in 1879 but soon had a dual-function as a school and church for the Roman Catholic community of Blackhead. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. Joseph’s Chapel is designated as a municipal heritage building by the City of St. John's due to its architectural and historic values.

St. Joseph’s Chapel is historically valuable for its contribution to the development of the fishing community of Blackhead. St. Joseph’s Chapel played a pivotal role in the social and cultural development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was built as a school in 1879, but soon after it also began to be used as a church when the adjacent stone church fell into disrepair. The Chapel served as a school from 1879 until 1965 and during this time it was the platform for the education and cultural advancement of the community. As a church, the Chapel was the religious centre of the Roman Catholic community in Blackhead and continued to be used for religious services until 1989. St. Joseph’s Chapel is valuable for its role as a centre of the community; the building was used for church and school as well as concerts and music lessons, while the grounds were used to host garden parties.

St. Joseph’s Chapel is architecturally valuable as a rare example of a small wooden schoolhouse located in close proximity to St. John’s. The simple design of the chapel speaks to a particular time and place when such structures stood at the social and spiritual centre of a community. The wooden foundation of the building is square and the walls are studded framing with plank construction and were lined with birch bark during construction. Other elements that define the purpose of this building are the Gothic Revival vernacular interpretations; the steeply pitched roof with an extended front porch; the simple, six-over-six wooden windows; corner eaves brackets; simple wooden cross over the front door; and its white painted appearance.


Source: City of St. John's Council meeting held 1994/08/22.

Character Defining Elements

All those features that relate to the Gothic Revival vernacular design of the building as a small outport chapel/schoolhouse, including:
-square floor plan with protruding porch;
-steep gable roof;
-wooden construction;
-wooden, six over six windows, their style and fenestrations;
-narrow wooden clapboard sheathing;
-plain door and window trim;
-wooden corner boards;
-corner eaves brackets;
-returned eaves on porch; and,
-building size, massing, dimensions and height.

Location and History

Community St. John's (Blackhead)
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 008 Blackhead Village Road, Blackhead
Construction 1879 - 1879
Style Gothic Revival
Building Plan Square
Website Link http://www.heritage.nf.ca/society/rhs/rs_listing/179.html