Diocese on board with plan to repurpose Harbour Grace church
The bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Falls is on board with an advisory committee’s recommendations for the future of a former church in Harbour Grace.
It’s been more than two years since the diocese accepted the local parish council’s recommendation to shutter and deconsecrate Immaculate Conception Church. A Registered Heritage Structure, the building requires significant repairs expected to cost millions of dollars.
Shortly after the decision was made official, Bishop Anthony Daniels established an advisory committee to investigate ways to preserve the former church in Harbour Grace and identify options for repurposing it.
Following some public consultation work, the committee settled on a recommendation that will make the 124-year-old structure publically accessible. According to a news release from the committee, the goal will be to “meet a wide range of community, social, cultural and economic needs while at the A plan is in place to give the former Immaculate Conception Church a new lease on life. The historic Harbour Grace cathedral closed in 2014. same time providing a variety of revenue streams to support its ongoing operation and maintenance.”
Those potential reuse options are indeed varied.
“I think the idea is you’d want a really flexible space that you can reconfigure to do a bunch of different things,” said Jerry Dick, executive director of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and one of the committee’s members.
The former church could be rented for weddings, conferences, meetings or workshops. It could also host food and craft markets. It may prove useful for community health and wellness as a venue for fitness groups. Events promoting music, visual art and other cultural activities may also happen inside the building.
While the committee’s work largely focused on what to do inside the church, Dick said the consultation process identified interesting ideas for the church grounds. Ornamental gardens will likely be set up to serve as an appropriate backdrop for wedding photos, but space could also be reserved for a community garden.
The stone church was built in a gothic cathedral style. It’s considered an iconic structure in the community and one of several notable heritage buildings in Harbour Grace.
Seeing this idea through to fruition will reportedly entail working with community members, local municipal leaders and agencies in higher levels of government. In the release, Daniels said the diocese and the advisory committee would remain involved in that work moving forward.
The committee, in addition to consulting the public through a focus group session and online survey, looked at case studies of successful adaptive reuse ventures involving heritage church buildings.