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Star of the Sea Hall Municipal Heritage Building

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

Formally Recognized: 1991/08/14

View of the main facade of the Star of the Sea Hall looking north. Photo taken summer 2004.; HFNL 2004
Star of the Sea Hall, St. John's, NL
View of east facade, Star of the Sea Hall.  Photo taken summer 2004.; HFNL 2004
Star of the Sea Hall
Detailed view of the tower located on the main facade, Star of the Sea Hall.  Photo taken summer 2004.; HFNL 2004
Detail of tower

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1920/01/01 to 1922/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Star of the Sea Hall is a large, three-storey, wooden institutional building prominently located at 40 Henry Street in St. John's. Situated on the crest of a hill among an assortment of commercial buildings and private residences, this 20th-century fraternal hall occupies an historic site. The municipal heritage designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Star of the Sea Hall has been designated because of its historic and aesthetic values.

The Star of the Sea Hall has historic value because it is associated with the Newfoundland Fishermen’s Star of the Sea Association, a nineteenth-century, Roman Catholic social and mutual benefit organization. The association was founded by Reverend Daniel Lynch in 1871 in St. John's to provide “spiritual advantages of individual members, and to provide relief to them in the case of sickness or death”. The association had an exclusive, Roman Catholic male membership who were expected to earn a livelihood. In return they were eligible to receive monetary benefits in the event that they became unable to work due to illness or death. The organization was intended as a social organization for fishermen and the St. John’s Branch had as many as 1500 members within the first six months. For many years it was the largest society in the city and eventually branched out to many parts of Newfoundland. The association eventually began sponsoring local athletics, became heavily involved in the Royal St. John’s Regatta, established a savings bank for its members and began contributing to public causes through philanthropic and charitable works.

The Star of the Sea Hall is also historically valuable for its varied uses. The hall was constructed on Henry Street on the site of the former Roman Catholic Old Chapel, which was destroyed by fire in 1874. This hall was consumed in the Great Fire of 1892 and a second building was erected the following year on the same site. Space in the building was immediately rented by the Newfoundland Government for use as a Supreme and District Court when those offices were also destroyed by the Great Fire of 1892. Ten years later the courts moved and the Hall was used by travelling theatre companies and local amateurs, as well as being used for a moving picture theatre as early as 1914. However, in 1920 this second hall was destroyed by fire and a third building was erected in 1922. Space was again used for a movie theatre, as well as a post office, auction rooms and eventually a bingo hall.

The Star of the Sea Hall is aesthetically valuable as a good example of vernacular Classical Revival construction. Built of wood, this building is the third on the site, but it has maintained the same basic shape since original construction in 1874, according to City of St. John’s Insurance Maps. The Star of the Sea Hall has a varying number of stories, from one to three-and-one-half because of its irregular shape, and it has a primary Mansard roof with returned eaves and various flat and shed roofs. Because of its hillside location, the concrete foundation varies from above ground to below ground, and several entrances can be found on this level, as well as the main floor level. A central tower projects from the front facade and it has a peaked, pedimented roof, four columns spanning the third storey, and a fan window comprised of several multi-paned windows. The building has been modernized over time, but maintains most original window openings and its original footprint, location and orientation towards the St. John’s harbourfront.

Source: City of St. John's, meeting held 1991/08/14

Character-Defining Elements

All those features representative of a vernacular interpretation of the Classical Revival style, including:
- central tower projecting from the front facade of the building, with a peaked, pedimented roof, four columns spanning the third storey, and a fan window comprised of several multi-paned windows;
- original window and door openings;
- primary Mansard roof;
- flat and shed minor roofs;
- multi-level, irregular side extensions
- original footprint;
- height and number of stories from one to three-and-one-half; and
- dimensions and orientation towards St. John’s harbour.



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



Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club

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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