Built in 1849, St. John's Cathedral, the mother church and cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong Island, is the oldest surviving Western Christian ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong.
The foundation stone of St. John's Cathedral was laid by the then Governor Sir John Davis on 11 March 1847, and construction was completed in 1849. Originally intended as a parish church also to be used by the British Army garrison, the cathedral was sited near Murray Barracks and the Parade Ground. It was extended in 1873, giving the building its cruciform shape. Li Hall was constructed between 1918 and 1921, replacing an earlier hall from the 19th century. During the Japanese Occupation (1941-1945), the Cathedral continued as a place of worship, but was later converted into a Japanese clubhouse, which caused damage to the building. It was reopened immediately after the war and gradually restored.
St. John's Cathedral is a grey-brick and stone structure in the Early English and Decorated Gothic style, which finds expression in lancet arches, ribbed course lines and geometrical bar window tracery. The former role of the Cathedral as a garrison church is indicated by the crenellated parapet on the tower and flanking turrets. The comparatively short tower with granite course binding, the use of window shutters and the adoption of opening trefoil and quatrefoil windows reflect the adaptation of European Gothic architecture to Hong Kong's sub-tropical climate. The smooth external walls were resurfaced in roughcast in 1934.