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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Built in 1899, the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is a stone cathedral built in the Gothic Revival style in Harbour Grace. With its towering spires, the Cathedral is an important element of the cultural landscape of Harbour Grace. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is designated as a Registered Heritage Structure due to its architectural, historical, cultural and environmental values.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is an excellent example of a stone church built in the Gothic Revival style. The Cathedral is the showpiece for the Catholic Church in this region and this is evident through the elaborate architecture and detailing. The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception employs many Gothic features on the exterior and interior including the lancet windows, buttresses and vaulted ceiling in the nave. The cruciform layout of the Cathedral is also typical of the Gothic style but it was not common in rural Newfoundland churches built during this period. This Cathedral also has a number of unusual and somewhat ostentatious features that contribute to its architectural value. In particular, there is an apse at the end of the chancel that is five-sided rather than semi-circular and the three central panels of the apse hold elaborate stained glass windows. On the exterior of the apse, each of the five sides rises to create an individual peak. Furthermore, the two large wooden spires on the towers flanking the west entrance
The elaborate design of this church was not common in Newfoundland during the Victorian Period and thus it is apparent that this church was built to stand out. Furthermore, the stone construction was atypical, as most churches were constructed of wood in rural Newfoundland. The use of locally quarried stone as well as some imported stone once again indicates the importance of the Cathedral to the community. It also speaks to the prosperity enjoyed by Harbour Grace during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Historically, the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception served the Catholic community of Harbour Grace and the surrounding region. It served as the seat of the Diocese from its construction until 1953, an area that encompassed all of Conception Bay, the northeast coast of the island, and Labrador. This Cathedral is also important as a historical symbol of the rise of Roman Catholicism in Newfoundland after the Emancipation Act of 1832.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception stands as a physical testament to the importance of the church to the community of Harbour Grace. The fact that this is the second Cathedral built by parishioners in Harbour Grace speaks to the determination of the Catholic community in Conception Bay. The size and scale of the church reflect the importance of the church during this period and the continued growth of the church in the period after the Emancipation Act.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is a defining landmark on the cultural landscape of Harbour Grace, with its towering spires being visible from both land and sea.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file, Harbour Grace - Cathedral of Immaculate Conception
All those exterior features that are representative of the Gothic Revival style of architecture including:
-stone construction and use of stone buttresses;
-five sided apse with peaked roofs;
-building scale, massing, size, fenestration pattern at time of designation.
All those interior features that are representative of the Gothic Revival style of architecture including;
-vaulted ceiling in nave;
All those features related to the environmental value of the property including;
-open space and mature trees in the lot surrounding the building;
-location of Cathedral in community;
-spires on west façade.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
Historic Resources Act
Registered Heritage Structure
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5
Cross-Reference to Collection
Harbour Grace Registered Heritage District
The Harbour Grace Registered Heritage District stretches from Point of Beach to the Roman Catholic Cathedral, along Water Street and surrounding areas and within the Town of…