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Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery Municipal Heritage Site

Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery, Argentia, NL
Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery, Argentia, NL
Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery, Argentia, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

Constructed of concrete and covered with earth, Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery is located on a hill overlooking Placentia Bay and the former American base of Fort McAndrew in Argentia, NL. Along with the main underground structure, two associated guns are mounted outside the bunker. The designation encompasses a portion of the underground and above ground fortification, including the two original artillery guns.

Heritage Value

Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Placentia due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural values.

Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery has historic value because it is a tangible reminder of World War II (WWII) and the role Newfoundland played in it. Newfoundland has always been viewed as a strategic location due to its geographic situation in the North Atlantic between Europe, Canada and the United States. Argentia was chosen as a naval base because of its strategic proximity to the North Atlantic convoy routes and the deep-water access afforded by Placentia Bay. These same attributes favoured this location for the historic meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt aboard naval vessels nearby in August 1941 which resulted in the Atlantic Charter. Fort McAndrew became the most expensive overseas American base built during the period. At its peak, twenty thousand American servicemen were stationed in Argentia. The base played a key role in the Battle of the Atlantic as anti-submarine patrols originated there and transatlantic convoys rendezvoused in the waters off Argentia. During the Cold War, Argentia remained desirable as a communications centre, one of many in the early warning system instigated by the United States to monitor Soviet activity.

Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery has aesthetic value as its design and construction technique are rare in the province. Known as the “200 Series” bunker, this underground fortification is likely the only one of its kind remaining with its original artillery guns in place. Built of concrete, the bunker is covered with soil and vegetation, blending into the landscape as its original design intended. The rare 6-inch Seacoast Guns M1903A2 remain in situ, complete with shields.

Argentia 282 Coastal Defence Battery has cultural and social values as it is a physical reminder of the cultural, societal and economic changes, both positive and negative, that were a result of the establishment of American military bases in Newfoundland and Labrador. For the residents of Argentia and Marquise, the American presence resulted in the forced relocation of these two communities. Almost eight hundred people were resettled to neighbouring communities, while their homes were demolished and their ancestors' graves exhumed and relocated at the insistence of the community. The American presence did, however, result in a job boom in the region. At its height, approximately five thousand civilians found employment on the base. In a society largely dependant on the credit system, the Argentia base provided local workers with a degree of financial independence not previously attainable in the traditional inshore fishery. The Americans who came to Argentia also introduced contemporaneous forms of American popular culture to the region, including leisure activities, music and fashions, which broadened the cultural sphere of wartime and postwar Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: Town of Placentia council meeting, August 19, 2006

Character Defining Elements

All elements associated with the original design intention of the bunker and gun emplacements as part of a fortified military base, including:
-location of bunker overlooking Placentia Bay and the former American base Fort McAndrew in Argentia;
-unrestricted view of Placentia Bay and the former American base Fort McAndrew in Argentia;
- all remnants of the gun emplacements and underground bunker;
-original form, scale and massing of bunker and gun emplacements;
-dimension, location and orientation of bunker and gun emplacements;
-original floor plan of bunker; and
-soil and vegetation exterior camouflage.

Location and History

Community Argentia
Municipality Town of Placentia
Civic Address Site of former American Base Fort McAndrew
Construction 1941 - 1941
Builder
United States of America Military
Style Other
Building Plan T - Shape
Website Link http://www.placentia.ca/