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St. Patrick's Church

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/10/31

Exterior view of St. Patrick's Church, Patrick Street, St. John's, showing south elevation and view of bell tower, taken July 2005; Nikki Hart/HFNL 2005
St. Patrick's Church, Patrick Street, St. John's
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1855/01/01 to 1881/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. Patrick's Church is an imposing Gothic Revival stone church prominently located on Patrick Street in west end St. John's. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. Patrick’s Church was designated a registered heritage structure because it has aesthetic and historic values. St. Patrick’s Church is a beautiful example of a Gothic Revival stone construction church. Designed by Irish architect, J. J. McCarthy, the building is a testament to the faith and determination of the St. John’s west parish to have a substantial church of their own. Constructed almost entirely from cut ashlar the large church features Gothic Revival attributes. The arched double front doors are surrounded by sandstone voussoirs. There are cross-shaped windows within each door, adding symmetry to the overall façade. The impressive bell tower, added in 1912, is topped with a 19 metre spire featuring louvered Gothic dormers with small crosses at the peak of each dormer. The ornately decorated bell tower also features Gothic elements with repeated arches encircling the perimeter of the tower, just below a parapet. The open belfry has columns supporting the arched openings and dentil details grace the upper moulding. St. Patrick’s Church is sheathed entirely of stone and has alternate stone quoining on all corners.

The building layout is rectangular with side aisles and clerestory windows that have gothic details. The design of St. Patrick’s Church comprises a continuous roof nave and chancel flanked by single aisles, with eleven arcaded bays and one blind bay to the east of the chancel and chapels that end in a flat front. A porch projects from the ninth bay and the tower is located at the north west angle of the nave. As is typical for the style there are triple stepped lancet windows in the east and west fronts, and paired lancets in each bay of the aisles and clerestory. Buttresses are used to mark the division between sanctuary and side chapels. The church has a dramatic, soaring interior with a pointed main arcade with broad chamfers and a hoodmold on foliage stops carried on massive columns with moulded capitals. The king post trusses, tie beams and curved struts are carried by the arched roof braces below the clerestory string course. St. Patrick’s marks a radical departure in style for the Roman Catholic churches of the time.

St. Patrick’s Church has historical value because it was designed by well-known Irish architect J.J. McCarthy, who also designed many other churches, including Chapel Maynooth College Kildare and St. Macarten’s Cathedral in Ireland. The church creates a specifically Irish-Catholic symbol in St. John’s in the area once known as Riverhead, where the Irish population was once great.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador unnumbered property file - St. John's, St. Patrick's Church.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that are reflective of the ecclesiastical Gothic Revival style of architecture executed in stone, including:
-stone exterior;
-bell tower with spire;
-rectangular layout with clerestory;
-vaulted ceiling with arcaded bays;
-triple and double stepped lancets;
-window and door openings;
-use of columns;
-king post trusses;
-wooden plank doors with crosses; and,
-building location, orientation, massing, height and dimensions.



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

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

J.J. McCarthy



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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