Great day for hauling stone

Archival Moment 

February 7, 1864

St. Patrick's Church, St. John's.

St. Patrick’s Church, St. John’s.

On February 7, 1864, work officially began on St. Patrick’s Church, Patrick Street, St. John’s with the hauling of the stone taken from the Southside Hills (at Cudahy’s (also Cuddihy) Quarry) in St. John’s.  The first sleigh of stone was delivered to the site  by the Cathedral (now Basilica)  Fire Brigade.

Typically, in the construction of stone buildings, the stone was hauled during the winter, when the road surfaces were packed with snow allowing the horses to pull the very heavy loads.

It is estimated that 600 tonnes of stone was hauled from Cudahy’s Quarry  by volunteer labor for the construction of the new church.

Construction continued as funds and materials permitted.

Twenty five years later, St. Patrick’s Church was consecrated on August 28, 1881.

The hauling of the stone on sleighs from the South Side Hills to the site of the future St. Patrick’s Church resulted in the death of one child. Children would grab onto the huge mounds of stone on the sleighs as they traveled through the streets. One child was crushed when a stone slab slid from the sleigh as the child tried to grab on for a joy ride.

Most Reverend John Hughes, Archbishop of New York and Bishop John Thomas Mullock of St. John’s laid the cornerstone of St. Patrick’s Church on September 10, 1855.  The church was designed in the late Gothic Revival, also termed Neo-Gothic, style by J.J. McCarthy, a prominent Irish architect, and was built by T. O’Brien, local architect and mason.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives: [Collection MG 956] Provincial Archives Special Items collection. Item consists of an address from the parishioners of St. Patrick’s, St. John’s, to their pastor for services rendered over twenty five years. 39 x 53 cm; watercolour floral border and illustration of St. Patrick’s church at bottom centre; main text hand-lettered with watercolour.

Recommended Reading: J.J.McCarthy and the Gothic Revival in Ireland by Jeanne Sheehy., June 1977. Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.