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St. George's Courthouse Registered Heritage Structure

St. George's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2001/09/15

View of front and right facades, St. George's Court House, St. George's, NL.; HFNL 2005
Court House, St. George's
View of front and right facades, St. George's Court House, St. George's, NL, prior to restoration in 2004, showing missing tower roof.; HFNL 2005
Court House, St. George's
Interior photo showing jail cells, St. George's Courthouse, NL.  Cells were used to hold prisoners when making court appearances.  Photo taken around 2004, prior to restoration.; HFNL 2006
St. George's Courthouse, interior.

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1901/01/01 to 1906/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. George’s Courthouse is a two-storey Second Empire style building located in St. George’s, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The St. George’s Court House has been designated a Registered Heritage Structure because of its architectural and historic values.

Architecturally, the Court House in St. George’s is valuable because it is a good representation of the style of judicial buildings constructed throughout Newfoundland during the early 20th century. Most feel that this building was probably designed under Superintendent William Henry Churchill, who was also responsible for designing other similar courthouses in Newfoundland including the one in Greenspond. Built in the Second Empire style, this building is unusual in the fact that it is only two-storeys tall whereas other courthouses built in Newfoundland during that time were a standard three- storeys. Though the court rooms were large in size, the lack of a third-storey is reflective of the small size of the community.

St. George’s Court House is historically valuable because of its associations with the improvements to the justice system in Newfoundland and also the development of the community of St. Georges. This building was one of the first courts to be set up on the West Coast and, additionally, it was equipped to house prisoners while awaiting trial. Originally the courthouse contained, in addition to courtrooms, a post office and a customs office. In 1943 the layout was drastically changed in order to accommodate the Constabulary, a drug room, a treatment room and offices, resulting in the downsizing of the main courtroom. Nine years later, the jail was replaced with a clinic. These changes speak of the increasing need for additional services in St. Georges during the mid 20th century. As of today, the courthouse serves as an Indian Band Council Office which is significant to the people of St. George's due to the fact that this was the location of the first Mi’kmaq settlement in Newfoundland.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, unnumbered property file, St. George's - St. George's Courthouse

Character-Defining Elements

All original features which relate to the age and construction of the building in the Newfoundland interpretation of the Second Empire style, including:
-Mansard roof;
-central tower;
-location and style of dormer windows;
-ornate decoration including eaves bracketing, large window trim, central pediment, etc.;
-narrow wooden clapboard;
-original window openings in regards to shape and location;
-original doors and location of openings;
-large corner boards;
-building height, massing and dimensions.

All interior features that reflect the original intended use of the building, including:
-ceiling height of the top floor; and
-existing jail doors and hardware in the lower portion of the building.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type



Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

William Henry Churchill



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, St. John’s Newfoundland A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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