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Western Union Cable Building Municipal Heritage Site

Western Union Cable Building, Bay Roberts, NL
Western Union Cable Building, Bay Roberts, NL
Western Union Cable Building, Bay Roberts, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

Built by Western Union Cable Company in 1913, Western Union Cable Building is a two-storey, hipped roof, brick building that employs a variety of Classical Revival elements. Western Union Cable Building is located on Water Street in Bay Roberts, NL. This designation is restricted to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Western Union Cable Building has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Bay Roberts due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural values.

Western Union Cable Building has historic value due to its association with the Western Union Cable Company. The Western Union Cable Company had an important influence on the Bay Roberts area, creating employment and later becoming involved in community service, sports and the arts in Bay Roberts. Western Union Cable Building was built in 1913 as a cable relay station for telegraph cables between Sennen Cove, Cornwall, England and Coney Island, New York, USA. During World War II, seventy-five percent of all trans-Atlantic cable messages went through Western Union Cable Building. Furthermore, Western Union Cable Building was heavily guarded during this period not only because it held an important communication link between the United Kingdom and the United States, but also because it housed a direct line between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Western Union Cable Building was built near the water to meet the cable that was laid between Cornwall and New York. After building the Cable Station, Western Union built residences for the employees near the Cable Station, including a new street complete with sidewalks, street lights and chestnut trees. The close proximity of Western Union Cable Building to the staff residences reflects the important influence the Western Union Cable Company had on the community of Bay Roberts.

Western Union Cable Building has aesthetic value as it is a good example of an early twentieth-century commercial building with Classical Revival elements. The exterior of the building employs a number of Classical elements including a triangular pediment over the main door and a symmetrical bay pattern on all facades of the building. The exterior brick of the building was imported from England, which is indicative of the affluence of the Western Union Cable Company. The transom window over the main door is typical of commercial buildings of this era. Other architectural features of Western Union Cable Building that contribute to the aesthetic value of the building include the dormer windows and the vaulted poured concrete roof of the building.

Western Union Cable Building has cultural value as it represents a period of early technological advancements in telecommunications. Beyond its technological contributions, the Western Union Cable Company played a significant social and economic role in the community of Bay Roberts.

Source: Town of Bay Roberts Regular Council Meeting Motion 2009-444 July 7, 2009.

Character Defining Elements

All exterior elements that are representative of the Classical Revival style including:
- entablature over the main door;
- triangular pediment over the main door;
- window size, style, trim and placement, and;
- symmetrical bay pattern on all facades.

All those original exterior elements including:
-poured concrete hipped roof and two storey height of building;
-brick size, shape and style;
-running bond on upper storey brick;
-English bond on lower storey brick;
-voussoirs brickwork around windows and details;
-transom window over main door;
-semi-circular dormer windows;
- size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors, and;
- dimensions, location and orientation of building.

All those environmental elements including:
- location of building near water; and,
- location near former employee residences on Cable Avenue.

Location and History

Community Bay Roberts
Municipality Town of Bay Roberts
Civic Address Water Street
Construction 1913 - 1913
Builder
Western Union Cable Company
Style Classical Revival
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade
Website Link http://www.bayroberts.com