St. Pat’s Church was built in 1876, and located further up Bonne Bay than its present location. Several decades after its construction it was deemed too inconveniently located for its congregation and so they did the only sensible thing, sawed the building in three pieces and brought it to where it stands today. Following the dwindling Catholic population in the region, attendance at Mass declined until there were only irregular services here. Eventually the church was used primarily as a tourist site, for visitors wishing to see this sublime example of neo-gothic outport construction. Yet this didn’t generate enough revenue for the upkeep of the building and eventually it sank into further disrepair.
Following the class action suit against the diocese of St. George’s in the early part of this century, St. Pat’s was to be sold to help raise the funds to cover damages. A private buyer was in place and the building was to become a summer home. Gros Morne Summer Music was contacted by people in the community requesting a final concert in the space before they lost the building forever. We agreed. And we did not make it through the first two bars of the piece before deciding that this building could not be sold. As it turned out, the most beautiful feature of the entire building was invisible. More beautiful than its surroundings, or its heritage clapboard exterior, or its impeccable hand carved interior wood finishings, was simply the way this building sounded. It wasn’t until a violin sent a note up into the ceiling of the church and the reverberations came back that we knew just how special this place was. Since then we have heard over and over from our guest artists that this is the best building they’ve ever played.
With the help of the Province of Newfoundland (BTCRD), and the Government of Canada (ACOA and Canadian Heritage) GMSM was able to engage local carpenter Steve Galliott to work on the space. Steve built the green room area at the back, and the bar and washroom area at the front, as well as rebuilt the stage, added plumbing, electrical, etc. It was a massive job getting this building from something that was slowly falling down into the shape it is in now.
Working with Lou McDonald, Steve Mugford, and Tom Cochrane, we developed the space into a high-tech video/audio studio, allowing us to mix six-camera high-def video onto an audio track in real time, virtually eliminating post-production processes and flattening the costs of high quality web-ready content. Our goal is to make St. Pat’s a haven to write, record, and document the creative process that goes into the performing arts, and to do it all within the spectacular surroundings of Gros Morne National Park.