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Presentation Convent and School

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

Formally Recognized: 1999/09/25

Presentation Convent Motherhouse, Cathedral Square, St. John's, NL, exterior photo, main facade. Taken 2004.; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2005
Presentation Convent, St. John's, 2004.
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Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/02/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Presentation Convent and School are 3 storey stone buildings influenced by the Classical Revival style of architecture. The Convent and School are located in Cathedral Square in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This designation is confined to the footprint of the buildings.

Heritage Value

Presentation Convent and School are designated as Registered Heritage Structures due to their historic, architectural and environmental values.

Presentation Convent and School are historically valuable for their association with the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Presentation Sisters in Newfoundland originated with the Presentation Congregation founded by Nano Nagle in Cork, Ireland. By 1833, Bishop Fleming was building the Catholic Education system in St. John’s and visited Ireland to recruit some teachers. Bishop Fleming requested a meeting with the Presentation Sisters in Galway, Ireland and as a result of that meeting four Sisters volunteered to cross the Atlantic to minister as educators in Newfoundland. During their first twenty years the Presentation Sisters moved their residence several times in order to accommodate the growing number of young girls.

Eventually, a convent and school were built on Long’s Hill in 1844 but both were razed in the fire of 1846. In 1850, Bishop Mullock laid the cornerstone for a new convent and in 1853 the Presentation Convent was officially opened. This historic building, the Presentation Motherhouse, remains today the central convent of the congregation in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Both the Presentation Convent and School are historically valuable as a symbol of the contribution made by the Presentation Sisters to Newfoundland society, and as a testament to the significant growth of Catholicism during the late 1800s in part due to their influence in apostolic endeavors.

Presentation Convent is architecturally valuable as a good example of an institutional building influenced by the Classical Revival style of architecture. With a symmetrical façade, a large tetrastyle portico with ionic columns, and quoining Presentation Convent features of a number of Classical elements. Presentation School is also architecturally valuable for its Classical Revival elements including a pediment, quoining and rounded arch windows. The Convent and School are also architecturally valuable for its association with renowned architect James Purcell and his partner, builder Patrick Keough. Purcell and Keough are well known for their work on Christ Church in Quidi Vidi, St. Bonaventure’s College and the Colonial Building among others.

Presentation Convent and School are environmentally valuable for their location in St. John’s. The Convent and School are located in the centre of the city and are two 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 file: St. John’s, Presentation Convent and School

Character-Defining Elements

All elements that define the buildings' Classical Revival design including:
-symmetrical facade;
-portico on main facade;
-stone construction;
-eaves brackets;
-window size and position;
-returned eaves on gable ends of convent;
-general massing; and
-orientation, location, dimensions.

All those elements that relate to the environmental value of the place including:
-location within the ecclesiastical district;
-location of the convent in relation to the Presentation School; and,
-visibility from the road.



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

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

James Purcell


Patrick Keough

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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