Though the Parkway’s sprawling and spired Confederation Building is the official symbol of our oft-questioned provincedom, it wasn’t until its completion in 1959, ten years after confederation, that the House of Assembly set up shop inside. Until that time, the Colonial Building on Military Road served as Newfoundland’s Legislature.
The neoclassical building, with its white Irish limestone exterior and its six authoritative columns, opened in 1850, but one of the building’s most noteworthy features came 30 years later.
At a time when ceiling frescoes were all the rage in the halls of power, the Newfoundland government found a way to keep the Colonial Building up to snuff for a steal.
A look upwards in the Council Chamber and the Assembly Room reveals the work of Alexander Pindikowski, a Polish-born painter who came to Heart’s Content in the late 1800’s as an art teacher. After trying to cash forged cheques, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 months in the Pen. Pindikowski, who happened to specialize in fresco painting, was promptly put to work on the Colonial Building’s ceilings, spending his days making an intricate masterpiece. In exchange for his efforts, Mr. Pindikowski’s sentence was reduced by one month, but whether he was actually paid for his work is not clear.
– Lesley Thompson