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Two New Churches……..1878-1879

Posted on
Designed by
James P. Johnston, Architect
of Ogdensburg

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The town of Brockville saw the building of four new churches in the years between 1875 and 1879. The first one was the George St. Episcopal Methodist Church (1875) on the south-west corner of Court House Square. Then the congregation of Trinity Anglican Church (1877) built their new building at the corner of Clarissa St. & George St.

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ca. 1880

1 Pine St [Brockville, ON] - Baptist Tabernacle [ca1880] improved

The First Baptist Church was under construction throughout 1878.
The new Baptist church was situated on the site of the old one. It was built of blue limestone and trimmed with white crystalized limestone. The main sanctuary designed to seat 500 persons on the main floor measured 77 x 56 feet. The spire rose to a height of 120 feet. Four large stained glass windows enhanced the sanctuary. The pastor, the Rev. R.B. Montgomery led the dedication services on Sunday, March 23, 1879.
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This was followed by new church edifices, built to replace earlier buildings. These are the two modern churches pictured here. Above is the Baptist Tabernacle (1878) on the south-east corner of Court House Sq., and below is the First Presbyterian Church (1879) on the north-west corner opposite. Imagine the interest of Brockvillians in this frenzy of church construction, in an age when church attendance was an integral part of family life.
The latest approved style of religious architecture was the soaring neo-gothic shown here and the design of these two buildings was from the hand of James P. Johnston (1841-1893),a very successful architect, then practicing in Ogdensburg, N.Y. With the completion of these buildings Johnston gained a number of important residential commissions from the wealthy businessmen of Brockville including Newton Cossitt, Richard Field and Thomas Gilmour.

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ca. 1880

10 Church St [Brockville, ON] - First Presbyterian Church [c1880]

The First Presbyterian Church was completed in 1879.
The new church was the third one erected on this corner near the Court House. The large sanctuary measured 100 x 110 ft. with a seating capacity of 900. The cost of construction was said to be about $35,000.

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Source: These two previously unknown photos were found by the late John Kehn of Home Again Antiques, who allowed me to copy them a few years ago. They were taken by George B. Murray, and may have been the earliest professional pictures taken after construction was completed. Also note the smaller buildings on either side of the churches.

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About Doug Grant

I am a local history buff who lives in the terrific city of Brockville on the north side of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario. I intend this Blog Site to share a lot of historical information which I have been collecting for the last 35 or so years. I was educated in Scarborough, Ontario and Toronto. I graduated as an Architectural Technologist from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in 1966. My first career was as an Architectural Technologist/Draftsman in Toronto between 1966 and 1972. I decided to go into teaching in 1972, and attended the Ontario College of Education in Toronto. I was then qualified to teach Architectural Drafting in the Ontario school system and obtained a position to do this in the town of Prescott, Ontario. I taught all my career at South Grenville District High School in Prescott until my retirement in June 2000. I have continued to develop one of my main interests and hobbies in Canadian History and specificly the History of Brockville since moving to live in Brockville, Ontario in 1972. Some of the material that I intend to use on this site was originally published in the Brockville newspaper, "The Recorder and Times" under my copyright. In addition I want to use a number of historical photographs that I have collected over the years. Would love to hear from anyone with similar interests to mine.

5 responses »

  1. Shawn Hargreaves

    Dear Mr Grant

    I live at 2912 2nd concession Brockville On, and on my deed it states 1810. I’m not sure if this is the year the land was registered or if it’s the year the house was built.

    I would like to know more about the history of my house and was wondering if you knew anything about it, or how I may find out it’s history.

    Thanks
    Shawn Hargreaves

    Reply
  2. Heather Lapierre

    Thank you for this! My great grandparents lived in Brockville in the late 1870’s, early 1880’s. I am still trying to track down the birth of children there. Are these churches still standing?
    Heather

    Reply
    • Heather:

      Both the Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church are still being used by their congregations for regular Sunday services and regular meetings.

      They still remain two of the jewels of the Court House Square area.

      Doug Grant
      Brockville

      Reply
      • Heather Lapierre

        Thanks, Doug. I have been in touch with the Presbeterian (now United) Church and have had to turn to the United Church Archives in Toronto. Apparently there were two Presbyterian churches in Brockville at that time. This business of tracking down one’s ancestors sometimes gets quite involved!

        They are both beautiful churches.

        Heather Lapierre
        North Vancouver

  3. Laurie Petersen

    That was my grandfather’s Baptist Church. Thanks for the visual.

    Reply

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