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The Colonial Building: "If These Walls Could Talk"
Construction and Interior

Noteworthy Events

Debates and Demonstrations

Landmark Moments

Post-Confederation Era

Noteworthy Events

Among the earliest noteworthy events in the Building's history was the infamous Savings Bank Robbery, in 1850. The office of the Colonial Treasurer and the Savings Bank were located in the basement of the Colonial Building and some time between Saturday night, November 30th and Sunday morning, December 1st, the Bank was robbed of £413.

The perpetrators, a James Kavanagh and a Michael Whelan, one of whom had worked at the Commercial Bank, were eventually brought to justice in March of 1851. £270 of the stolen money was recovered and the men were committed to jail.

The public face of the Colonial Building was given many opportunities to shine as a famous site for holding gala balls. The first of these events was held on July 25th, 1852, in honour of Vice Admiral Sir George Seymour and the officers of H.M. Ships Cumberland, Bermuda and Buzzard. Over 300 people were reported to have attended that ball.

The Colonial Building, Decorated for Prince of Wales Visit, 1919.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL A35-49).
(57 kb)

Many other balls were held, some for Royalty - like the Prince of Wales Ball in 1860 - and some to celebrate occasions such as the laying of the transatlantic cable in September of 1866. All of these affairs were grand in spectacle and the local newspapers provide us with vivid descriptions of the lavish displays of food, decorations, and even fireworks on some occasions.

The Colonial Building served its public function in more than just hosting balls however. Agricultural fairs were held on the grounds, and on one occasion the interior of the building was used as a public display space for the items destined for the Paris Exhibition in 1867.

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