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Memorial United Church Registered Heritage Structure

Bonavista, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2010/04/30

View of the left and front facades of Memorial United Church, Bonavista, NL.; © HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2007
Memorial United Church, Bonavista, NL
View of the rear and left facades of Memorial United Church, Bonavista, NL.; © HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2007
Memorial United Church, Bonavista, NL
View of the front facade of Memorial United Church, Bonavista, NL.; © HFNL 1995
Memorial United Church, Bonavista, NL

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1918/01/01 to 1923/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2013/04/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Memorial United Church is a vernacular Classical Revival style church with a mid-pitch roof and two side towers. Built between 1918 and 1923, it is located on Church Street in Bonavista, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Memorial United Church has been designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador because of its aesthetic and cultural value.

Memorial United Church has aesthetic value due to its Classical Revival style of architecture. This style was popular throughout mainland British North America from circa 1820 to 1860. While Memorial United is a relatively late vernacular incarnation, it manages to preserve the main architectural elements of the style. These include the mid-pitch roof, front facing gable with returns on the eaves, pilasters on the front façade, the recessed entry with columns and a pediment, the broad cornice and dentils. Memorial United Church was designed by Newfoundland-born architect Charles Harris Lench, M.Arch. (Harvard), whose father, Rev. Charles Lench had served in Bonavista, and was built by local master carpenter Ronald Strathie. Ronald Strathie has been noted for his craftsmanship and he built many other fine structures in the community, including the Roman Catholic rectory, Alexander Chapel of All Souls, the courthouse and the Loyal Orange Hall. The cornerstone of the church was laid October 31, 1918 and the building was officially opened on January 28, 1923. At the time of its construction it was considered one of the largest wooden church structures east of Montreal.

Memorial United Church has further aesthetic value due to its environmental setting. Located on one of the main streets in the town, Memorial United is also in the heart of the town’s heritage area. It is considered a landmark in the town and its towers have long been a reference point for fishermen returning to port.

Memorial United Church has cultural value as it conveys a particular spirit of place and a sense of a specific time and place. At the time the church was constructed, Bonavista was an important hub for the fishing industry. It was the home base for several large mercantile firms involved in the fishery and the success of these firms and the fishery is reflected in the heritage architecture of the town. That the United congregation could support the construction of a church of this scale and style, employing well-known professionals to design and build the church, speaks to the prosperity of the town. The church has further cultural value as it was dedicated to the memory of congregants who died in World War I, and as such is a lasting memorial on the built landscape of Bonavista.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Bonavista - Memorial United Church – FPT 177”

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements of vernacular Classical Revival style architecture which represent the aesthetic value of Memorial United Church, including:
- height of structure;
- size, style, and placement of towers topped by steeples on front facade;
- mid-pitched roof;
- front facing gable with returns on the eaves;
- four pilasters on the front façade;
- recessed entry with columns, entablature and a pediment;
- panels on recessed entry;
- cornice;
- dentils;
- narrow wooden clapboard;
- cornerboards and other trim work;
- original size, style, trim and placement of windows;
- transom windows above main doors;
- round clerestory windows;
- rounded arch windows with keystone motif on trim;
- louvres in left tower;
- clocks in left tower;
- original size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors, and;
- dimension, location and orientation of building.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


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

Charles Harris Lench (M.Arch., Harvard)


Ronald Strathie

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street St. John's, NL A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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