Description of Historic Place
Trinity in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador is a coastal town which retains a notable degree of 19th century and early 20th century townscape character, particularly in its designated Historic Area. The Trinity Historic Area encompasses all of the portion of the municipality from north of the crest of Gun Hill (also known as Ryder’s Hill) and west of Hill Street, including Nuddick Point, to the shorelines. The Historic Area is relatively dense with dwellings and related outbuildings and structures; fisheries and commercial buildings and structures; public, institutional and religious buildings, including two churches; and historic sites, streets and several cemeteries. Most of the buildings are mid-19th to early-20th century wooden structures, with the majority of the dwellings being one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half storeys tall. Twelve of the buildings in the historic area are Provincial Registered Heritage Structures, a number of which operate as publicly accessible Provincial Historic Sites or Trinity Historical Society Sites.
The Trinity Historic Area has notable cultural value as one of the foremost examples in Newfoundland and Labrador of an historic townscape existing, to a notable degree, due to a community-driven built heritage preservation ethic. The Trinity Historical Society, one of the province’s earliest organizations of its type, formed in 1964 with a mandate to preserve historic buildings. The community was incorporated as the Town of Trinity in 1969, and in 1993 the town council established the regulated Trinity Historic Area in its municipal plan. This preservation ethic has helped ensure a cultural landscape with a high ratio of heritage buildings, structures, features and streetscapes, and one which is thereby distinctly imbued with a sense of time, place and history. A dozen of the buildings in the Historic Area are Provincial Registered Heritage Structures, including the Green Family Forge, the Public Building, the Parish Hall, St. Paul’s School, two churches, a fishing stage and a number of residences. The historic townscape is a major factor in Trinity’s appeal to tourists from both within and outside of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is a foundation for local cultural tourism initiatives.
The Trinity Historic Area has historic value as visible evidence of the development of a distinctive, coastal settlement which emerged in the early 19th century as one of the chief communities in Trinity Bay. The historic role of major merchant firms in the community’s economy and evolution, and its consequent relative prosperity are reflected in the number of substantial dwellings, commercial buildings, public buildings, and the scale and fine Ecclesiastical Gothic Revival architecture of St. Paul’s Anglican Church. These grander buildings are interspersed amongst vernacular wooden dwellings and outbuildings, with fish stages and slipways at the shoreline. The concentration of the Historic Area and density of the buildings towards the shoreline, with Gun Hill forming a natural boundary, underscores the role of the landscape in the development of the town, as well as Trinity’s relationship with the sea and its historic status as a centre of overseas trade.
The massing, scale, forms and styles of the buildings and structures in the oceanside landscape of the Trinity Historic Area collectively contribute to its aesthetic value. Most fences and buildings exhibit 19th and early 20th century styles. Steep gable roof dwellings clad in narrow siding with little ornamentation are preponderant, creating a sense of cohesion which is punctuated by less common saltbox, mansard, gambrel, hipped and low pitch roof forms. Dwellings are generally one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half storeys tall and smaller in scale than the historically prominent institutional and commercial buildings (such as St. Paul’s Church, the Parish Hall, the Public Building and the Garland-Ryan Shop), so that the latter buildings retain their original visual prominence and landmark status in the townscape.
In addition to the impressive collection of historic buildings situated between Gun Hill and Trinity’s harbour and coves, and its ocean views, the historic network of roads and lanes contributes to the cultural landscape value of the Trinity Historic Area. Trinity was one of the first communities in Newfoundland to implement formal road design. Beginning in 1835, a road board set to work improving the existing paths to create a system of main roads and lanes which still exists, along with the names given to them during that period. This lends an orderliness in the layout of streets, and subsequently in the organization of lots, fences and buildings, that makes Trinity proper rather exceptional amongst historic communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Source: Town of Trinity Municipal Plan, 1993/12/10.
All those features and characteristics which contribute to the historic townscape appearance of the Trinity Historic Area, including:
-its coastal siting;
-prominent natural landscape features, including Gun Hill;
-its mixture of buildings and related features and structures, including houses, outbuildings, fences, churches, cemeteries, stages, wharves and slipways;
-its mixture of vernacular buildings with those of more formal architectural styles;
-the preponderance of 19th and early 20th century building forms and styles, amongst which steep gabled roofs are most numerous and other forms such as mansard, hip and low pitch roofed structures are notable;
-the presence, scale and visibility of prominent buildings, including the Parish Hall, churches, and former courthouse building, from public roads;
-the compatible scale of buildings and structures;
-the massing of buildings and structures in relation to each other;
-the preponderance of traditionally constructed fences types;
-and its historic street patterns and nomenclature.