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The Hermitage Municipal Heritage Site

The Hermitage, Topsail, Conception Bay South, NL
The Hermitage, Topsail, Conception Bay South, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

The Hermitage is a one-and-a-half storey stone building with a steep gable roof, constructed in the late 1700s. The building is located on 23 Spruce Hill Road, Topsail, Conception Bay South, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Hermitage has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Conception Bay South due to its aesthetic, historic and cultural values.

The Hermitage has aesthetic value as it is a rare example of stone craftsmanship in Newfoundland and Labrador. Local oral tradition dates the construction of the Hermitage to the late 1700s. It is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Conception Bay South, and possibly the province, as well as being one of the few remaining stone buildings in the region. Also of note are the purple slate shingles which are present on the roof.

The Hermitage has historic value because of its associations with the Anglican Church in Conception Bay South. In the late 1800s it was used as the rectory for the nearby St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. Also of historical note is the changing ownership of the property by several notable Newfoundland community and business leaders. These include J. Frederick Bancroft (Newfoundland Teachers Association co-founder), C. A. Pippy (businessman) and Victor Bennett (Bennett’s Brewery).

The Hermitage has cultural value because of its place in oral tradition. It has been suggested that it was built in the late 1700s to serve as a sub-court of the Courts of Admiralty in Harbour Grace. Local fishermen were said to gather here to settle fishery disputes. According to local tradition, after the building was vacated by the Anglican Church, it was used as a residence by a local hermit, which gave the building its current name.

Source: Town of Conception Bay South Regular Council Meeting Motion 09-339 September 1, 2009.

Character Defining Elements

All those elements that relate to the age and architectural design of the building, including:
- steep gable roof;
- purple slate roofing shingles;
- exterior stone walls;
- stone foundation;
- number of storeys;
- window size, style, trim and placement;
- brick chimney style and placement, and;
- dimension, location and orientation of building.

Location and History

Community Conception Bay South (Topsail)
Municipality Town of Conception Bay South
Civic Address 023 Spruce Hill Road, Topsail
Construction (circa) 1790 - 1790
Style 18th Century Vernacular
Building Plan Rectangular Short Façade
Website Link http://www.conceptionbaysouth.ca