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Harbour Grace Court House National Historic Site of Canada

2 Harvey Street, Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1966/05/25

Front elevation of the Harbour Grace Court House, showing the main entrance, 2005.; Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, Bryan Horton, 2005.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Harbour Grace Court House National Historic Site of Canada
Harbour Grace Court House
Palais de justice de Harbour Grace

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Harbour Grace Court House is a two-storey stone institutional building that stands at 2 Harvey St. in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. Distinguished by a large central window flanked by two entry doors accessed by a split staircase, its design reflects the form and classically inspired aesthetic, typical of many British colonial courthouses. The building included a jail and the jailer’s modest residence is still attached to one end of the courthouse. The official recognition refers to the building on its property.

Heritage Value

Harbour Grace Court House was designated a national historic site in 1966 because:
- constructed in 1830, it survives as the oldest public building in the province,
- it is distinguished as a public building by the large central window and its solid masonry construction.

Harbour Grace Court House was built in 1830 in one of Newfoundland’s earliest and most prosperous settlements. It replaced an earlier courthouse with one of more substantial construction containing facilities for a court, a jail and jailer’s residence. It was originally designed and built by Patrick Kough [also known as Keough], a Newfoundland resident, and has been restored since 1980.

The heritage value of Harbour Grace Court House National Historic Site resides in its age and longterm status as a public building as well as in the substantial, distinguished nature of its construction and architectural form.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1966, May 1974, May 1979, June 1980, December 2004.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the rectangular footprint of the main court house building, with the smaller rectangular footprint of the attached residence;
- the two-storey cubic massing of the main court building under a hipped roof with end chimneys;
- the 1 ½ storey rectangular massing of the residence under a mansard roof with dormers;

the court house and gaol;
- the symmetrical organization of the main facade centred on a large segmentally arched widow with split staircase leading up to two entry doors flanked by smaller segmentally arched windows;
- the rear facade with its matching large central window flanked by smaller paired windows;
- its classically inspired details including the split staircase leading to panelled entry doors flanked by pilasters beneath a pediment, the multi-pane sash windows with toplights;
- its cut stone construction materials with decorative brick window surrounds and wood detailing;
- its solid-wall masonry construction;
- surviving evidence of its original interior layout, spatial volumes, detailing and finishes;
- continuity of its patterns of access and circulation;
- the high walled jail yard to the rear;

the gaoler’s house;
- its recessed to one side of the court house;
- its relatively small scale;
- its modest, domestic form;
- its wood construction detailing;
- surviving evidence of original finishes and domestic layout.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type


Town or City Hall


Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

Patrick Keough [Kough]


Patrick Keough [Kough]

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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