St. Patrick's Church
(Patrick Street, St. John's)
St. Patrick's Church, a late Gothic Revival, also termed Neo-Gothic, style building was designed by J.J. McCarthy, a very important Irish architect, and was possibly built by local T. O'Brien, local architect and mason. The cornerstone of St. Patrick's Church was laid on September 17, 1855, by Bishop Mullock and other distinguished clergy from Canada and the United States. American financier, Cyrus Field, contributed £1,000 to help with construction costs. Despite Field's substantial contribution, financing the project proved difficult. Financing troubles combined with labour shortages resulted in the numerous construction delays and, consequently, the structure was not completed until 1881.
In 1864 nine years after the cornerstone was laid, work officially began on the structure with the construction the foundation from stone taken from the Southside Hills at Cudahy's Quarry. Further problems prevented work on the project from advancing beyond the 1864 stage for a decade. Additional stone was donated in 1875 and construction began once more. Construction continued as funds and materials permitted and the church was completed in 1881. After more than two-and-a-half decades, St. Patrick's Church was finally dedicated on August 28, 1881.
Additions have been made to the church in the years since its completion. The stations of the cross, depicting the Christ's suffering at Easter, were erected in 1885. The presidential chair, created by a Mr. Klas, was presented in 1886. The original facing stone had to be replaced in 1911 due to deterioration and the bell tower was added in 1912. Two years later, in 1914, a spire was built and the next year a bell was imported from New York. The organ was installed as a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1931. As well, numerous stained-glass windows have been donated in memory of various individuals. The older windows were imported from England where they were made by James Winston and Sons. The later windows added in 1961 were created by Yvonne Williams and Jeane McNichols of Toronto. There have also been numerous modernizations, such as lighting, and renovations arising out of Vatican II which brought many changes to the Roman Catholic worship services.
The 19 m (62-foot) steeple was removed in the spring of 1997, as deterioration caused it to be a danger to the public. St. Patrick's congregation decided to raise the $350,000 it would cost to replace the spire. As the original was unusable, an exact replica was ordered from Munn's fabrication company in Utah. On November 27, 1997, the 11,500 pound replica steeple was hoisted into place.
In the fall of 1997 the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador declared St. Patrick's Church a Registered Heritage Structure.
Updated August, 2004