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St. Patrick's Church - City of St. John's Heritage Site

St. Patrick's Church
St. John's west, ca. 1914
Interior, altar of St. Patrick's Church

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

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

Description of Historic Place

St. Patrick's Church is an imposing Gothic Revival stone church prominently located on Patrick Street in west end St. John's. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. Patrick’s Church was designated a Municipal Heritage Building because it has aesthetic, historic and cultural values.

St. Patrick’s Church is aesthetically valuable because it is a beautiful example of a Gothic Revival stone construction church. This Roman Catholic Church is built with cut ashlar quarried from the nearby Southside Hills, at what was then known as Cudahy’s Quarry in St. John’s. Its Gothic Revival attributes are many, including pointed arched windows and doors, triple lancet windows and a dramatic belfry and spire. This church represents one of the best examples of masonry church construction in the province.

St. Patrick’s Church is also aesthetically valuable because it stands as a landmark within the City. Its immense spire, overall massing and size can be seen from many points in St. John’s, and it contributes to the viewscape of this historic city.

St. Patrick’s Church has historical value because it was designed by well-known Irish architect J.J. McCarthy, who also designed many other churches, including Chapel Maynooth College Kildare and St. Macarten’s Cathedral in Ireland. The church, named for the patron saint of Ireland, creates a specifically Irish-Catholic symbol in St. John’s, in an area where the Irish population was once great.

St. Patrick’s Church has cultural value because of the involvement of the Roman Catholic community in its eventual completion. The cornerstone was laid in 1855 by Bishop Mullock, a great proponent in the realization of the church. However, sporadic funding, lack of manpower, social issues and the Great Fire of 1846 caused numerous delays in the erection of St. Patrick’s Church. The building is a testament to the faith and determination of the St. John’s west parish to have a substantial and worthy church, and this was demonstrated time and again over the 25 years it took to finish. Excavation of the building's foundation was undertaken by all members of the local Roman Catholic population, including women and children. Nine years after the cornerstone was laid this parish moved 600 tons of local stone and hauled it to the site within one week, demonstrating their determination and resolve. In spite of delays St. Patrick’s Church was eventually finished by 1881, providing a solid Roman Catholic presence in this area of the city.

Source: City of St. John’s, Council meeting held 1989/07/21

Character Defining Elements

All those elements that are reflective of the ecclesiastical Gothic Revival style of architecture executed in stone, including:
-stone exterior;
-bell tower with spire;
-rectangular layout with clerestory;
-vaulted ceiling with arcaded bays;
-triple and double stepped lancets;
-window and door openings;
-use of columns;
-king post trusses;
-wooden plank doors with crosses; and,
-building location, orientation, massing, height and dimensions.

Notes of Interest

church has a clerestory

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 040 Patrick Street
Construction 1855 - 1881
J.J. McCarthy
Style Gothic Revival
Building Plan Rectangular Short Façade
Website Link's_Church_(St._John's)