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St. Patrick's Church Municipal Heritage Building

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/07/21

View of the top of St. Patrick's church, showing spire and bell tower. Date unknown.; HFNL 2007
St. Patrick's Church
View of St. John's west, with St. Patrick's Church seen in the upper left of the photo. This northward looking view was taken from the general vicinity of the Southside Hills.; HFNL 2007
St. John's west, ca. 1914
View of the altar, St. Patrick's Church. Date unknown.; HFNL 2007
Interior, altar of St. Patrick's Church

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1855/01/01 to 1881/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/11/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. Patrick's Church is an imposing Gothic Revival stone church prominently located on Patrick Street in west end St. John's. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. Patrick’s Church was designated a Municipal Heritage Building because it has aesthetic, historic and cultural values.

St. Patrick’s Church is aesthetically valuable because it is a beautiful example of a Gothic Revival stone construction church. This Roman Catholic Church is built with cut ashlar quarried from the nearby Southside Hills, at what was then known as Cudahy’s Quarry in St. John’s. Its Gothic Revival attributes are many, including pointed arched windows and doors, triple lancet windows and a dramatic belfry and spire. This church represents one of the best examples of masonry church construction in the province.

St. Patrick’s Church is also aesthetically valuable because it stands as a landmark within the City. Its immense spire, overall massing and size can be seen from many points in St. John’s, and it contributes to the viewscape of this historic city.

St. Patrick’s Church has historical value because it was designed by well-known Irish architect J.J. McCarthy, who also designed many other churches, including Chapel Maynooth College Kildare and St. Macarten’s Cathedral in Ireland. The church, named for the patron saint of Ireland, creates a specifically Irish-Catholic symbol in St. John’s, in an area where the Irish population was once great.

St. Patrick’s Church has cultural value because of the involvement of the Roman Catholic community in its eventual completion. The cornerstone was laid in 1855 by Bishop Mullock, a great proponent in the realization of the church. However, sporadic funding, lack of manpower, social issues and the Great Fire of 1846 caused numerous delays in the erection of St. Patrick’s Church. The building is a testament to the faith and determination of the St. John’s west parish to have a substantial and worthy church, and this was demonstrated time and again over the 25 years it took to finish. Excavation of the building's foundation was undertaken by all members of the local Roman Catholic population, including women and children. Nine years after the cornerstone was laid this parish moved 600 tons of local stone and hauled it to the site within one week, demonstrating their determination and resolve. In spite of delays St. Patrick’s Church was eventually finished by 1881, providing a solid Roman Catholic presence in this area of the city.

Source: City of St. John’s, Council meeting held 1989/07/21

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that are reflective of the ecclesiastical Gothic Revival style of architecture executed in stone, including:
-stone exterior;
-bell tower with spire;
-rectangular layout with clerestory;
-vaulted ceiling with arcaded bays;
-triple and double stepped lancets;
-window and door openings;
-use of columns;
-king post trusses;
-wooden plank doors with crosses; and,
-building location, orientation, massing, height and dimensions.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

City of St. John's

Recognition Statute

City of St. John's Development Regulations

Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

J.J. McCarthy



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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