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St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (The Kirk) Registered Heritage Structure

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, St. John's, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (also known as The Kirk) is a red and grey brick church built in the Gothic Revival style. Built between 1893 and 1896, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is located prominently on a hill above Queen’s Road at Long’s Hill in St. John’s. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997 due to its architectural and historic values.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is architecturally valuable as a good example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Built of brick and stone imported from Scotland, the exterior of the church features a number of Gothic elements. Some of these elements include, pointed arch windows and doors, spire, finials, buttresses and arcading. The church also has a cruciform layout which is typical of a Gothic Revival style church built during this period. While the design of this church is generally very traditional there are some features that make the church unique. For instance, St. Andrew’s has an apsidial front on its south end, which provides an architecturally interesting entrance to the church. Furthermore, the red and black Newfoundland slate used for the roof shingling provides an interesting striping to the building. The size and scale of this church are also important as they stand as a testament to the determination of the Presbyterian community in St. John’s. In 1892, a year before the construction of this church, the Presbyterian community made up only 3% of the total population of St. John’s.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is also architecturally valuable for its association with architect James Wills. Wills was commissioned to come to St. John’s to repair the Anglican Cathedral after the Great Fire of 1892. While he was here, the congregation of St. Andrew’s Church commissioned him to design their new church. He is also known for designing the Masonic Temple on Cathedral Street.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church boasts one of the world's best collections of Ballentine stained-glass windows from the renowned firm A. Ballentine & Sons of Scotland. Between 1902 and 1926 James Ballentine installed a series of twelve windows depicting various episodes in the life of Jesus Christ. Other windows were added in 1922, 1963, and 1989.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is historically valuable as a symbol of the longevity and determination of the Presbyterian community in St. John’s. The Presbyterian congregation in St.John’s has had a lengthy and colourful history. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, built between 1893 and 1896 is the fourth Presbyterian church in St. John’s. The first church was built on this site in 1843 and remained on this site until 1876 when in burned. In 1843, the Established Church in Scotland divided, with many in the congregation following the new Free Church. In 1849, St. Andrew’s Church in St. John’s divided and there was a Free Church built on Duckworth Street. These separate congregations continued for about 30 years, until the Free Church burned in 1876. The third Presbyterian church in St. John’s marked the reunion of the two congregations of the Presbyterian faith. This church was constructed in 1878 on Duckworth Street. This church burned in the Great Fire of 1892. Built after this fire, the current church stands as a testament to a period of great rebuilding in St. John’s. It is built on the site of the first church and incorporates the cornerstone of the third church as well as a medallion featuring a burning bush. This church is likely built on the foundation walls of the original church. In general, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church survives as a monument to the 19th Century Scottish influence in the development of St. John’s.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (The Kirk) - FPT 1646”

Character Defining Elements

All those exterior elements that are representative of the Gothic Revival style of architecture as executed in brick, including:
-spire, pointed arch windows, finials, arcading;
-imported stone and brick construction;
-cruciform layout;
-apsidal south front;
-burning bush medallion;
-red and black slate roofing;
-tower with spire;
-eaves brackets;
-rose window and other stained glass windows; and
-building height, massing, size and dimensions.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 076 Queen's Road
Construction 1893 - 1896
James Wills
S.M. Brookfield
Style Gothic Revival
Building Plan Cruciform with Apse
Website Link