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Grace Building, 283-285 Water Street Municipal Heritage Building

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

Formally Recognized: 2003/06/16

View of the main facade of the Grace Building, 283-285 Water Street, St. John's, NL.  Photo taken July 2006.; HFNL/Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Grace Building, St. John's, NL.
View of western facade, 283-285 Water Street, St. John's, NL.  Photo taken July 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Grace Building, St. John's, NL
Historic image showing the Grace Building , circa 1898-1913, while under the ownership of John Anderson, as indicated by the store sign. ; HFNL/ 2006
Grace Building, St. John's, NL.

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/08/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Grace Building is a three-storey masonry brick building located at the corner of Water Street and Beck's Cove within the Water Street Federal Heritage District, St. John's. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Grace Building, 283-285 Water Street, has been designated a Municipal Heritage Building for its aesthetic and historical values.

The Grace Building is aesthetically valuable because it is a typical 19th century commercial building with a unique eight-sided turreted corner. The building is faced with concrete parging and its three stories are delineated by projecting stringcourses. The first floor is at street level and has the typical picture windows and recessed doorway featured on most downtown commercial buildings. The low panels running under the storefront windows are also typical of the area. At the main façade corners are pilasters and a wide band offers space for the store signage. The second floor 4/4 windows are decorated with simple lintels and sills. On the third floor are 1/1 arched windows which are further enhanced by the painted arched band which runs over them. The most distinguishing feature of the building is the eight sided turret with the octagonal, peaked roof that stands out prominently on the skyline. Within the turret are arched windows on all eight sides.

The Grace Building has historical value because of its association with the Hon. John Anderson. Scottish-born Anderson operated a dry goods store from these premises from 1898 to 1913. He served on the St. John’s City Council from 1900 to 1905 and was also elected a member of the House of Assembly during that same period. In 1905 he was appointed to the Legislative Council, a position he held until the late 1920s. Anderson was instrumental in the passing of the Daylight Savings Act of 1917. His advocacy of this novel bill resulted in the sobriquet “Anderson’s Time”. He was also an advocate of measures aimed at solving the housing problems of St. John’s and in 1920 he was the Managing Director of the Dominion Co-operative Building Association Limited.

Source: City of St. John's Archives property file, Grace Building 283-285 Water Street.

Character-Defining Elements

All those exterior, original elements that reflect the 19th century commercial building, including:
-large traditional storefront with its recessed doorway, fascia board, decorative corner work and corner pilasters;
-eight sided turret with octagonal peaked roof;
-shape, size and fenestration of windows;
-size, dimensions and location of building; and
-general massing and existing number of storeys.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

City of St. John's

Recognition Statute

City of St. John's Act

Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

A.S. Bruce


Kennedy Brothers

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of St. John's Archives, Railway Coastal Museum, 3rd Floor, 495 Water Street, P.O. Box 908, St. John's, NL, A1C 5M2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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