Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church is a one-and-a-half-storey wood church building in a vernacular Renaissance Revival style. It was built in 1908-13 on a prominent site in Open Hall, NL. The designation includes the church building, its interior, and the cemetery grounds.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018 due to its historic, aesthetic, and intangible cultural values.
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church has historic value as an early Catholic church serving the outer reaches of the King’s Cove parish and as the third Catholic church built in Open Hall, Bonavista Bay. The first chapel is believed to have been completed in Open Hall under Rev. Thomas Waldron around 1854. Little is known about the second church, however the present structure was erected by builder Thomas Martin and completed in 1913.
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church has aesthetic value as a fine example of the Renaissance Revival style expressed in an outport setting. Gothic Revival was the dominant early church style in Newfoundland and Labrador and later became strongly associated with the Church of England. In response, the Renaissance Revival became popular among Catholics around the turn of the 20th century. Sacred Heart exhibits many hallmarks of this style including a symmetrical facade, mid-pitch roof, round arch windows and doors, and pilasters. Its false front and cupola are less common but particularly notable features, lending the structure a distinct Italian style. While Renaissance Revival is most often expressed in stone, Sacred Heart is rendered in the local wood tradition making it a rare example nationally.
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church has intangible cultural value due to its importance within its community. While most Catholic churches lost their hand-made furnishings following the Second Vatican Council, the Open Hall congregation resisted destruction of their fine pieces and saved the altar rail carved by church-builder Thomas Martin. For many years prior to the proliferation of automobiles, parishioners walked miles from nearby communities to mass at Open Hall. Today the church continues to have success fundraising toward its upkeep from a dedicated community and many visitors each year.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Open Hall – Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church – FPT NL-363”
Character Defining Elements
All original features of the exterior which relate to the age and style, including:
-mid-pitch roofs with clerestory windows;
-narrow wood clapboard and wood trim;
-rectangular footprint with porch and hexagonal apse;
-wood false front with curving wings and rose details;
-4/4 round arch aisle and façade windows;
-6-light round coloured glass clerestory, apse, and gable peak windows;
-wood cupola above the liturgical west end;
-double doors with fanlight transom window;
-size, style, trim, and placement of wood windows;
-size, style, trim, and placement of wood doors;
-location of the church within its cemetery;
-dimensions and orientation of the building.
All original features of the interior which relate to the age and style, including:
-pressed-metal wall and ceiling coverings;
-hand-painted column capitals, ceiling panels, and other trim;
-hand-carved altar rails;
-round arch arcading with square panel details;
-round arch chancel details; and
-balcony opposite the chancel.
Location and History