No locks for Doors Open

New additions for two-day event in St. John’s

Published on September 5, 2014
The Basilica of St. John the Baptist and Museum will once again be part of Doors Open this weekend welcoming visitors Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Built between 1841 and 1855, it was Newfoundland’s largest building project to date. It was consecrated on Sept. 9, 1855. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Those curious to sneak a peek inside places that might otherwise prove difficult to access will have plenty of sites to choose from this weekend in St. John’s.

Doors Open 2014 takes place Saturday and Sunday, allowing people to step inside historic and culturally significant properties extending from the west end of Water Street through to Quidi Vidi. The Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust is presenting the event.

“It’s just a really interesting opportunity to sort of be a tourist at home,” suggests event co-ordinator Aileen Worrall.

Buildings that would typically charge an admission fee will open free of charge, though some sites will only open for one day, as indicated on the event’s website.

Many of the 22 participating sites have previously taken part in Open Doors, including The Basilica and its museum, the Crow’s Nest Officers’ Club, the Newman Wine Vaults, Commissariat House and Central Fire Station.

However, six sites will open their doors as part of the event for the first time ever — the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s Government House stables, Gerald Squires Gallery, Neville Gallery and Framing, the Association for New Canadians, St. Michael’s Printshop and Gower Street United Church.

According to Worrall, all those places have something unique to offer. The Gerald Squires Gallery occupies a traditional St. John’s rowhouse on Prescott Street, while Neville Gallery and Framing is just around the corner in what Worrall describes as a unique example of “local vernacular merchant architecture.”

Offices for the Association for New Canadians are located in a house built in 1855, and the artist-run St. Michael’s Printshop will host printmaking demonstrations in the afternoons. The addition of Gower Street United Church equips Doors Open with three participating churches — that one, The Basilica and the Anglican Cathedral.

Overall, Open Doors aims to appeal to a wide variety of people, with some sites offering activities geared towards children. Fire trucks at Central Fire Station and horses at the RNC stables are of obvious interest to kids, notes Worrall. Likewise, beer on tap at the Quidi Vidi Brewery and the Crow’s Nest Officers’ Club may also have an intended audience in mind.

“There’s something for everybody, I think,” said Worrall. “It’s just a really good opportunity to see what St. John’s has to offer both architecturally, historically, and culturally.”

Volunteers will be present at each site to answer any questions visitors might have. A full list of participating sites and visiting hours can be found online at the Doors Open website.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew