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226 Water Street Municipal Heritage Building

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

Formally Recognized: 1989/07/21

View of main facade of the Royal Bank, 226 Water Street, St. John's, NL.  Taken February 2005.; HFNL 2005/ Deborah O'Rielly
The Royal Bank, St. John's, NL.
Detail of interior Corinthian pillar with heavy ceiling moldings.  There are several pillars located inside the building, and the ceiling is divided by heavy moldings as shown.  Photo taken September 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Detail, 226 Water Street
View from south side of Water Street, showing front facade of 226 Water Street.  Image shows the symmetry in the monumental ornamentation.  Photo taken September 2006.; HFNL/ Deborah O'Rielly 2006.
front facade, 226 Water Street

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1892/01/01 to 1893/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/11/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Royal Bank is a stone building in the Classical Revival style located at 226 Water Street, St. John's, NL. It is a large building that occupies an area of downtown St. John’s in which several other banking institutions are also present. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

226 Water Street has been designated a City of St. John’s Municipal Heritage Building because of its architectural and historic values.

226 Water Street is aesthetically valuable because it is a very fine example of the Classical Revival architectural style. This is evident in the symmetrical façade and balanced use of decorations. Classical details, such as pilasters, dentils, columns, urns and fret work express the institutional nature of this bank building, while also emphasizing the importance of the financial institution. 226 Water Street is faced with a lightly colored cut ashlar, and stands apart from surrounding buildings because of its color and high level of decoration. The size of the building is also another distinguishing feature, set off by the very large plate glass windows on the first level. The main entrance is recessed and columns flank each side of the opening.

226 Water Street is historically valuable because it is considered the oldest existing “foreign” branch In Canada. The bank opened in St. John’s in 1895, the year the colony’s banks failed. Then called the Merchants Bank of Halifax, the Royal Bank opened an agency in Water Street to assist in the restoration of essential banking services. It remained the only branch on the island until 1911.

Source: City of St. John's Archives property file 226 Water Street, Royal Bank.

Character-Defining Elements

All elements that reflect the building's Classical Revival design, including:
-symmetry and use of pilasters, columns, dentils urns and fret work in the decoration of the facade of the building;
-light coloured ashlar sheathing;
-shape, size, decoration, and placement of windows;
-brackets under the first storey windows;
-second entrance with its recessed doorway and transom; and
-size, location and dimensions of building.



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
Bank or Stock Exchange

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

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

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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