The Bishop’s Palace is a three storey stone and concrete building built in the Neo-Classical style of architecture. Commissioned by Archbishop Roche in 1923, the Bishop’s Palace replaced a previous Palace on this site. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
The Bishop’s Palace was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1999 due to its historic and aesthetic value.
Sitting adjacent to the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, the current Bishop’s Palace is actually the second such building on this site. The first Palace was built under the direction of Bishop Mullock in 1856, but was destroyed by a fire in 1921. The Palace had been home to multiple clergymen, who were forced to take up temporary residence in the quickly-renovated Bishop’s Library next door. Plans were made to construct a second Bishop’s Palace and, by 1923, construction was underway. The new Palace was commissioned by Archbishop E. P. Roche, who played a central role in the social and political history of Newfoundland. Roche was a supporter of Catholic education and of healthcare, opening St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in 1922. However, he is perhaps most famous for his staunch opposition to Confederation during the referendum of the late 1940s.
The Bishop’s Palace is a small-scale example of the Neo-Classical designs of New York architectural firm Delano and Aldrich. Williams Adams Delano designed several buildings in St. John’s, including the King George V Building and St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital. He was good friends with Archbishop Roche, who commissioned the new Bishop’s Palace. The relative simplicity of the design is representative of the architectural firm’s work. The building features many Neo-Classical elements, such as the portico with its Doric columns, the pedimented central window, and the symmetrical façades. While the designs of the building were by Delano and Aldrich, the construction was supervised by St. John’s architect John E. Hoskins and undertaken by contractors Pidgeon and Murphy. The stone-and-concrete building used freestone salvaged from the previous Bishop’s Library; bluestone quarried from Signal Hill was also used.
Originally, the Bishop’s Palace was home to the parish priests on the top floor and the archbishop on the second floor – although Archbishop Roche himself never stayed there, preferring his house on Topsail Road. The main floor was used for the archbishop’s office, dining room and drawing room. It also contained a kitchen and servant’s quarters. The Bishop’s Palace is now open to the public as the Basilica Museum. The Bishop’s Palace is located in the heart of the city’s Ecclesiastical District and part of a group of buildings that create a Roman Catholic complex centred around the Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John’s – Bishop’s Palace – FPT 1705”
Character Defining Elements
All elements that define the building’s Neo-Classical design, including:
-flat roof with cornice;
-stone and concrete construction;
-use of locally quarried bluestone;
-use of imported freestone for building trim;
-size and placement of window and door openings;
-regular fenestration resulting in a symmetrical facade;
-central pedimented window above main entrance;
-Classical portico and details;
-window and door trim;
-square floor plan, and;
-orientation, location and dimensions.
All those environmental elements that define the building’s purpose and use, including:
-architectural unity with neighbouring Bishop’s Library;
-proximity to the other ecclesiastical buildings that form a Roman Catholic complex surrounding the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist;
-connection to other buildings within the Basilica complex via interior passageways, and;
-location within the Ecclesiastical District of St. John’s.
Location and History
City of St. John's
200 Military Road
1923 - 1924
Delano & Aldrich, John E. Hoskins, Pidgeon and Murphy