St. Bonaventure’s College (Mullock Hall) is a three-and-a-half storey Classical Revival institutional building with Gothic elements, located on a grassy campus on Bonaventure Avenue in St. John’s, NL. It is part of a larger complex of Roman Catholic buildings that sit within the city’s ecclesiastical district. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
St. Bonaventure’s College was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1989 due to its historic, cultural and aesthetic value.
Founded in 1857 by Bishop John Thomas Mullock, St. Bonaventure’s College was the first collegiate school for middle-class Roman Catholic boys in St. John’s. It was intended to rival the intellectual standards of the Continental colleges where Mullock had studied. The College was first operated by the Franciscans, but was taken over by the Irish Christian Brothers in 1889. Originally, St. Bonaventure’s College was based in the neighbouring building, known as the Monastery (also a Landmark Registered Heritage Structure). By the turn of the twentieth century, it became apparent that St. Bonaventure’s College was in need of more space for its growing student population. Mullock Hall was constructed in 1908-1909 to accommodate the growing number of students and was named in tribute to the school’s founder. St. Bonaventure’s College remained under the tenure of the Irish Christian Brothers as a public Catholic school until 1988. In 1998, school amalgamations and the end of Newfoundland’s denominational public schooling system forced the closure of St. Bon’s. It was re-opened in 1999 and has operated since as an independent K-12 Catholic school. The present-day St. Bonaventure’s College is based mainly in Mullock Hall, with only the main floor of the Monastery still in use today. Other than the 1978 addition of a gymnasium on the rear, Mullock Hall has seen few major alterations since its construction.
St. Bonaventure’s College was designed in the Classical Revival-style with Gothic elements by local architect Jonas Barter (who later worked on renovations at the neighbouring Basilica of St. John the Baptist). It was constructed by contractors M. & E. Kennedy. A large pediment with a central round window crowns the central bay of the building. The evenly-distributed windows, with their keystone motif, also contribute to the Classical feel. A pedimented portico around the main entrance once completed the effect, but it was removed some time post-1959 due to structural instability. A raised doorway with Classical entablature was once visible on the front facade of the side wing; however, a gabled porch added post-1918 covered this entrance. The concrete facade was painted for the first time in 1960.
The two-storey chapel on the third floor of the side wing is the only exception to Mullock Hall’s Classical styling. The Gothic Revival features here are typical for ecclesiastical buildings from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century. Gothic elements include pointed arch windows and quoining at the corners of the building. Two miniature Gothic turrets on the chapel’s front facade were removed some time after 1959.
St. Bonaventure’s College remains one of the most visible and well-known educational facilities in St. John’s. Many of its former students have been influential in the religious, political, and business life of the province. One such alumnus was future Archbishop Michael Howley, who attended when it was still primarily a seminary and went on to become the first locally-born archbishop in Newfoundland. Also among the school’s alumni are Newfoundland prime ministers Edward Morris and Michael Cashin and Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Danny Williams. The College produced Newfoundland’s first Rhodes Scholar, Sydney Herbert, and dozens of Rhodes Scholars and religious scholars have since graduated from the school. The school’s prominence is echoed in its hilltop location, within the complex of Roman Catholic buildings that forms a large part of the city’s ecclesiastical district.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John’s – St. Bonaventure’s College (Mullock Hall) – FPT 1647”
Character Defining Elements
All those elements that define the building’s Classical Revival style, including:
-general massing and three-and-a-half storey construction;
-truncated steep-pitch gable roof, with parapet on gable end;
-slate roof shingles;
-concrete facade, with 3 bays;
-paint in pale, stone-like colour, with white accents;
-pediment dormer in centre of Mullock Hall, featuring cross pinnacle and roundel window;
-size and symmetrical placement of rectangular windows;
-keystone motif around windows;
-large entrance door with sidelights and transom, and;
-large staircase leading up to entrance.
All those elements that define the building’s Gothic Revival chapel, including:
-steep-pitched gable roof;
-slate roof shingles;
-parapet on gable ends;
-pointed arch windows with Y-tracery, including large central window on gable end.
All those elements that define the building’s historic importance in Catholic St. John’s, including:
-large open lot in prominent hilltop location, bordered by mature trees;
-height and visibility in St. John’s skyline;
-location within the ecclesiastical district;
-connection to Old College (also known as The Monastery or Skinner Building), and;
-connection, via interior passageways and external footpaths, to other buildings that make up the Roman Catholic complex centred on the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Location and History
City of St. John's
2A Bonaventure Avenue
1908 - 1909
Rectangular Long Façade