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Historical St. John's
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While staying with us you will find yourself within a short walking distance to a majority of the historical attractions St. John's has to offer.

Located in the historical downtown/central district of St. John's, the Abba Inn is an ideal location for anyone seeking out the heart of the oldest city in North America.  Stepping out the front door of our establishment, you will immediately come face to face with the classic, colorful row houses that have become synonymous with our city. Several restaurants, museums, shops and tourist sites are nearby, and the world famous George Street is also within stumbling distance.

Following is a listing of some of the local attractions, starting with those in our more direct proximity:


Five minutes walk or less:

Anglican Cathedral of St. John's the Baptist
The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is regarded as one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical Gothic Revival in North America. The cornerstone was laid in 1843, and sections of the church were destroyed by the St. John's Great Fire of 1892. Rebuilding was completed in 1905. Declared a National Historic Site in 1981, the cathedral preserves its excellent stained glass, medieval carvings, and offers a small archival museum containing some early British Cathedral artifacts.  The area behind the church encompasses the oldest cemetery in Canada, which was used from the early 1700s until 1849. Although few headstones remain, it contains about 5,000 graves.

Anna Templeton Centre for Crafts
Built as the British Bank of North America in 1849, the building has enjoyed an extraordinary history. It was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Fire of 1892 and during World War II it was designated as a safe haven for the crown jewels. In the 1950's, the 4th floor was transformed into a forensics lab for the Ping murder investigation. The building was used as a bank until the 1980's, was part of the College of the North Atlantic in the 1990's before becoming a Centre for not-for-profit centre dedicated to craft and art training in 1997.

Downtown district
Shops, restaurants, music, night life, no matter what your interest, downtown St. John's will have something for you. For more detailed information visit our downtown section.

Gower Street United Church
Sometimes called the "Methodist Cathedral", this visibly striking church is built of red brick and was completed in 1896 after the previous church on the site was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892. The first of the three churches that have occupied the site was begun in 1816. The present church once had a spire, but deterioration caused it to be removed years ago. Student tour guides are available in July and August, Monday to Friday from 2 pm to 5 pm and following 11 am Sunday worship services.

Government House
This building is one of only a few in North America to have a moat surrounding it. It was commissioned by Governor Cochrane in 1824 and now serves as the private residence of the Lieutenant Governor as well as the guest home for visiting members of the Royal family. Season: Open Year Round

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
Located on Harvey Road, the church stands an imposing Gothic Revival building with an impressive spire. St. Andrew's was built in 1894 after the original presbyterian church on Duckworth Street was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892.

St. Bonaventure College
"A Catholic School in the Jesuit Tradition", St. Bonaventure College was founded by the Franciscans in 1857, and from 1889 was administered by the Irish Christian Brothers. The school was closed in 1998 and re-opened as an independent Roman Catholic School in the Jesuit Tradition in 1999.

St. John's Basilica
Construction completed in 1850, the structure was consecrated as a cathedral in 1855. At that time, it was the largest church in North America. It is now a National Historic Site and holds the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's. Guided summer tours are available.

St. John's Courthouse - National Historic Site of Canada
Opened in 1901, the Court House on Duckworth Street is a Victorian-era stone building made with local granite and sandstone. The stonework was cleaned in 1988 and the neo-Romanesque Court House today looks very much as it did in 1901. Newfoundland's last public hanging occurred there in January 1835, when John Flood was hung for robbing the St. John's-Portugal Cove stagecoach.

St. John's Waterfront
To get a real sense of St. John's, a walk along the waterfront is a must. The harbour, located in historic downtown, has provided shelter to explorers, merchants, soldiers, pirates and mariners of all kinds over the last 500 years. Historic buildings, coves, plaques and parks along the route help depict the history of St. John's since discovery by John Cabot in 1497.

The Rooms
A combination of the provincial museum, provincial archives and provincial art gallery, The Rooms is the cultural heart of Newfoundland and Labrador.  The site also offers a breathtaking panoramic view of St. John's and the harbour.

War memorial
The Newfoundland War Memorial was unveiled between Duckworth Street and Water Street on July 1, 1924 - exactly eight years after the Newfoundland Regiment was decimated at Beaumont Hamel, France, during the Battle of the Somme. Situated at Queen's Beach where Sir Humphry Gilbert took possession of the island in 1583. Its bronze figures represent Liberty, the Merchant Marine, the Army, the Navy and the Forestry Corps


Ten minutes walk:

Commissariat House Provincial Historical Site
One of the oldest buildings in the province, the Commissariat House was built especially by the Commissariat to supply the city's garrison. Open from May 30 to September 30, guided tours are available.

Geo Centre
This Science Centre's main exhibits start off in a state-of-the-art theatre that takes you back through the story of Earth, unleashing the power of volcanoes, earthquakes, and torrential rainstorms with startling realism. The rest of the exhibits area is divided into four sections - Our Planet, Our Province, Our People, and Our Future. Located next to Signal Hill, most of the Centre is built underground and is heated naturally by holes drilled over 150 metres (500 feet) into the rock, using heat pumps to circulate fluids that heat or cool the building.

George Street United Church
Construction on this church began in 1872 and is built entirely of stone taken from the Southside Hills, when in the winter of 1892 the heavy stones were dragged across the frozen harbour. Archival holdings of the church include baptism, burial and marriage records from 1882.

Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
Home of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, and also the site of the Library of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. The library is open to the public but appointments are encouraged.

Newman Wine Vaults Provincial Historic Site
The Newman Wine Vaults, located on the north side of Water Street just west of Springdale Street were most likely constructed in the late eighteenth or very early part of the nineteenth century. Stone was used as the basic building material with lime mortar made from seashells, and the vaults themselves are constructed of stone and fired red brick. The historic and architectural importance of the Newman Wine Vaults was recognized when they were acquired by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1972 and made a Provincial Historic Site in 1974.

Railway Coastal Museum
In this magnificent heritage building and former train station, this museum exhibits the 100 year history of the Newfoundland Railway and Coastal Boat services.

Signal Hill
The most famous attraction in St. John's, Signal Hill rises above the entrance of St. John's harbour and because of its strategic location, was a natural site for a signal station and fortifications protecting the harbour and city below. As early as 1704, flag signals were flown from the summit of Signal Hill to inform St. John's of approaching ships, both friendly and hostile. In 1762, English and French forces fought the last North American battle of the Seven Years War on Signal Hill. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi made communications history when he received the first transatlantic wireless signal, and it is the location of the last signal station in Canada. Signal Hill stands today as one of the province's best known landmarks. The site features panels displaying the rich history of the site, as well as walking trails and picnic facilities. Signal Hill offers a panoramic view of St. John's, the harbour, the ocean and the coastline.

St. Thomas Anglican Church
Opened in 1836, St. Thomas Anglican Church is the oldest church in St. John's. Located at the corner of Military and King's Bridge Roads, it originally served the members of the British Garrison at Fort William, which stood at the nearby site now occupied by the Sheraton Hotel - former Hotel Newfoundland. Though made of wood, the church survived the Great Fires of 1846 and 1892 -- it was located outside the main areas of destruction.


By car or day hike:

Confederation Building
Standing on a hill overlooking historic St. John's, Confederation Building houses the Legislative Assembly. The 12 storey East Block was opened in 1960 and, at that time, housed all Provincial Government departments, boards and commissions. The main floor lobby contains a mural by Newfoundland artist Harold B. Goodridge, which represents Newfoundland before and after confederation. The grounds also contain a number of sculptures. The six-storey West Block accommodates more than 2,000 Provincial Government employees.

Fort Amherst
The first lighthouse in Newfoundland was built by the British Military Garrison in 1810 and is located at the base of the Southside Hills at the entrance to St. John's Harbour Narrows opposite Signal Hill.

Quidi Vidi Battery Provincial Historical Site
Overlooking scenic Quidi Vidi Village, the Battery was originally erected by the French during their capture of St. John's in 1762. Later rebuilt by the British, it was occupied until well into the 19th century. Restored to the 1812 period, this battery is now staffed by guides dressed in period uniforms of the Royal Artillery. Season: Late June to September.

Quidi Vidi Village
A picturesque fishing village within the City of St. John's, reminiscent of small fishing villages throughout the world.  You can wander the narrow, winding roads and view tightly-built cottage houses, a reminder of early St. John's culture. While exploring the village you can visit Mallard Cottage (the oldest cottage in North America) or you can walk the Quidi Vidi Rennies River Trail. It is also a Provincial and National Heritage Site. An array of items including antiques, china, pictures, coins, stamps, etc.

Wesley United Church
Also in the west end of the city, Wesley United, opened as a Methodist church in 1908, underwent a name change in 1925 with the founding of the United Church of Canada. The first radio station in Newfoundland, 8WMC began broadcasting from the church in 1924. Its successor, VOWR (Voice of Wesley Radio), is still on the air.


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