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Bishop's Library

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/09/25

Photo of main facade of Bishop's Library, St. John's, NL. ; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2004
Bishop's Library, Bonaventure Avenue, St. John's,
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/20

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Bishop’s Library is a two storey stone building built in the Neo-Classical style of architecture. Built in 1859, the Bishop’s Library is located on Bonaventure Avenue in St. John’s, nestled between the Bishop's Palace and The Monastery. This building is one of a complex of buildings located within the Ecclesiastical District of St. John's. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Bishop’s Library is designated as a Registered Heritage Structure due to its architectural, historical and environmental values.

The Bishop’s Library is architecturally valuable as a good example of Neo-Classical architecture. The library employs many classical elements, especially on the front façade of the building. The main façade features a large central pediment supported by four Doric pilasters. The windows are spaced in a symmetrical fashion and are rounded arch windows. As is typical of Neo-Classical buildings, the central window has a different trim than the rest of the windows, employing a keystone theme.

Another interesting architectural feature is also in the centre of the building and that is the carriage entrance that is directly below the main window and the large pediment. The placement supports the classical symmetry of the main façade of the building. The interior of the building is also well-preserved including a fine coffered ceiling and original bookcases in the library.

Built in 1859, shortly after the original Bishop’s Palace, the Bishop’s Library survived the fire of 1921 which destroyed the adjoining palace. The Library originally opened as a public library and reading room, then later became the Episcopal library and reading room for clergy. Built under the direction of Bishop Mullock, the Bishop’s Library is historically valuable for its association with Bishop Mullock. Mullock had an important impact on the development of Catholic Education and other social programs in Newfoundland during his episcopacy. In fact he is the namesake for one of the two buildings that comprise St. Bonaventure’s College; Mullock Hall.

The Bishop’s Palace is environmentally valuable for its location in St. John’s. The Bishop’s Palace is located in the centre of the city and is one of a larger number of buildings that create a complex of ecclesiastical buildings in this area.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, unnumbered property designation file: "St. John's - Bishop's Library".

Character-Defining Elements

All elements that reflect the building's age, use and Neo-Classical design including:
-symmetrical front façade with Classical pediment;
-interior coffered ceiling;
-original bookcases in reading room;
-stone construction;
-rounded arch windows.
-location in relation to adjacent ecclesiatical buildings;
-arched carriage entrance; and,
-building height, massing, detailing and dimensions.



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

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

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

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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