Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
205 Water Street is a Classical Revival style building located at 205 Water Street, downtown St. John's, NL. It is a striking gray, concrete parged building with immense proportions that stands out from neighboring buildings. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
205 Water Street has been designated a Municipal Heritage Building for its aesthetic and historic values.
205 Water Street is a very fine example of the Classical Revival style. Faced in concrete this building utilizes symmetry through the use of three storey fluted, monumental pilasters. A large pediment graces the front of the building and large dentils can be found at the eaves. Arched windows with keystone decorations grace the second storey windows. A decorative wreath can be seen in the pediment high on the top floor. The main floor arched windows have heavy concrete mullions separating each window pane and the overall impression of this building is of monumentality, strength and stability. The main entrance further expresses this through its heavy entablature with dentils and pilasters and the deeply recessed door. A second entrance located at the front façade gives access to the second floor offices.
205 Water Street is historically valuable due to its age, variety of uses and rarity in design. Earliest records in the City of St. John's Directory show the building as a concrete warehouse owned by the Baine Johnston Company General Merchandise. Between this time and 1925 the building was converted as a bank by the Canadian Bank of Commerce. The city tax atlas description of the bank in 1946 shows brick terra cotta and concrete construction, giving it its present appearance. It has remained a bank since that time, but has changed ownership and entities.
205 Water Street is also historically valuable for its rarity in design. This building was constructed after the 1892 Great Fire of St. John's destroyed much of the city, including this street and all buildings on it. As the city rebuilt strict rules were enforced that made buildings "fireproof" by making them from inflammable materials such as stone and concrete. 205 Water Street began as a concrete warehouse, but as its use increased in importance as a bank, its appearance changed to include the monumental features visible today. The building stands out amongst its neighbors as unique and one of a kind.
Source: City of St. John's Archives, unnumbered property file, St. John's - HSBC Building
All those elements that define the building's Classical Revivial design, including:
-use of pilasters, arches, pediments and dentils;
-concrete and stone sheathing;
-fenestration of windows;
-recessed main entrance;
-second entrance to the offices on the second floor;
-wreath motif decoration;
-size, dimensions and location of building; and
-general massing and number of stories.
Newfoundland and Labrador
City of St. John's
City of St. John's Act
City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Bank or Stock Exchange
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of St. John's Archives, 3rd Floor Railway Coastal Museum, 495 Water Street, P.O. Box 908, St. John's, NL A1C 5M2
Cross-Reference to Collection