Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Adam's Cove Methodist School: A Social History


The Adam’s Cove Methodist School Hall is a two-storey wooden community building in a vernacular Palladian style built in 1910 in Adam’s Cove, NL. It was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018 due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural value. The designation includes the school hall and its interior. It is located in the town of Adam’s Cove which amalgamated with the surrounding communities to create what is now Small Point-Broad Cove-Blackhead-Adam’s Cove.

Adam’s Cove School. Image courtesy of Heritage NL.

Construction and Building Description

The Adam’s Cove Methodist School Hall is a well-preserved example of a building type once found in several communities. It was designed by John Ayre in a vernacular Palladian style and built under foreman William Brennan. Palladianism is exemplified here by the hall’s symmetry, gabled roofs which resemble pediments, and Palladian window arrangements. Similar structures were built in Adam’s Cove, Blackhead, and Winterton. While many outport buildings served multiple purposes, this particular design is unique to the region. It is built atop an early concrete foundation with a relatively low-slope roof and is therefore representative of a transition period in local building practice.

Historical Context

This school in Adam’s Cove was built by and operated for its community. Fundraising and construction was organized by a local committee in collaboration with the Methodist church. Lumber was harvested on community-wide outings and funds came largely from canvassing residents. The completed hall was never owned by the Methodist Board of Education or the provincial Department of Education but was rented from the local committee. The school hall was operated this way for more than 100 years and in that time was a venue for school classes, Sunday school and prayer meetings, harvest festivals, auctions, garden parties, holiday concerts, and many other community events. It was used as a two-room school with classes held downstairs (and for a while upstairs) and events hosted upstairs, each room heated by their own potbelly stove.

Photo of children hanging in Adam’s Cove School, image courtesy of Heritage NL.

Recent History

Over the years since the school closed in 1967 it has managed to stay in relatively good condition and has been used as a community hub, maintained by a volunteer committee that is dedicated to preserving the history of the school and its importance to the community. Some of the events that are still hosted at the school hall are the Thanksgiving Harvest Festival, Christmas gatherings, and community meetings.

October 2022 Harvest Festival Display at the Adam’s Cove School. Image courtesy of Robert Hudson.

There have been few changes made to the building. The exterior changes have been the replacement of the wooden clapboard in the 1980s, asphalt shingles installed on the roof, the wooden window frames restored, the cornerstone being fixed, and the steps being repaired. The interior changes include the removal of a partition on the first floor, the covering of the pressed tin ceiling on the second floor, and new coats of paint. The original pressed tin can still be seen on the walls and a portion of the second floor ceiling.

(Left) Second floor with pressed tin walls, (right) second floor pressed tin ceiling. Images courtesy of Heritage NL.

Local Stories/Memories

The Adam’s Cove school hall committee in collaboration with Heritage NL hosted a Mug Up event on November 10th, 2022 to gather folks from the community to share memories and stories about the Adam’s Cove school. 27 people attended to share their appreciation for the school, which made the event a great success.

November 2022 Mug Up. Image courtesy of Heritage NL.

Some fond memories were told of both the school and the community as a whole:

-Drinking cocoa-malt, playing ball in the yard in front of the school

-Competitions to build the biggest fire and Halloween pranks

-Enjoying the concerts and dances hosted at the hall

-Burning milk on the stove in the school

-Lighting the fire with hard coal to heat the school, riding in the back of a truck going to boil-up picnics, and putting sods down chimneys as a prank on Halloween

-Riding a bike around the field behind the school

-Remembering Christmas dances, garden parties, and the harvest festivals

-Running around and playing soccer in the field behind the school

-Bean suppers hosted for fundraising by the Ladies Auxiliary


The long term plans for the Adam’s Cove Methodist School Hall according to the committee are to preserve the heritage of Adam’s Cove, use the space to host traditional community events such as harvest festivals and concerts, organize recreational and educational activities for the community, and more.


Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Adam’s Cove – Adam’s Cove Methodist School Hall – FPT NL-3577.”

Personal Communication, November 2022 Mug Up.

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