Central United Church, corner of 7th Avenue and 1st Street S.W.

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Document Record
Creator Alison Jackson
Title Central United Church, corner of 7th Avenue and 1st Street S.W.
Identifier aj_1270
Subject Calgary (Alta.) -- History
Rights Copyright Calgary Public Library. 616 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary AB, T2G 2M2, 1+(403)260-2785 hum1@calgarypubliclibrary.com
Document source Alison Jackson Estate
Notes Calgary, Alberta
2825
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7779.707 KB
Calgary Public Library, Central Library, Local History Room
Alison Jackson Photograph Collection
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Contributor Calgary Public Library
Description “Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared September 14, 1997. <br><br> Central United (Methodist) Church <br>• 131 7th Avenue S.W. <br>• Built: 1904 - 1905 <br>• Architect: Badgely and Nicklas of Cleveland, Ohio <br>• Contractor: Calgary contractors and tradesmen worked on the building. John Gillespie - stone work, George Bailey - woodwork, W. Frewing - plastering, J. Lyons of Toronto - leaded glass work, decorative woodwork and doors supplied by the congregation's own W.H. Cushing from his sash and door factory. <br>• Original cost: $75,000 <br>• Original owner: Methodist Church and (after 1925) the United Church. <br>• Construction materials: Roughcut sandstone - square and rectangular blocks. <br>• Architectural style: Romanesque with Gothic Revival features, pointed arched windows and two towers. The tallest tower rising 86 feet. <br>• Original interior details: Featured a central octagonal auditorium with a balcony. Glazed octagonal skylight in the form of a shallow dome. Interior woodwork was antique oak and walnut. The main floor seats 800, the balcony 400, and the choir loft 50. <br><br> Historical highlights: <br>• original Methodist Church in Calgary. Successor to the Calgary Methodist Church established by Reverend John McDougall in 1875. The first service was held in the North West Mounted police barracks at Fort Calgary. <br>• planning for the new building began in 1898 when funds were raised to hire the architects <br>• building committee included Reverend G.W.Kerby, J.J. Young, Senator James Lougheed and the Honourable W.H. Cushing both of whom were distinguished lay leaders of the congregation. <br>• other influential members of the congregation were Peter Prince, F.E. Osborne (alderman and stationary store owner), J.D. McAra (printer), T.B. Braden and A.M. Armour (founders of the Herald in 1883), R.B. Bennett who continued to serve on the Board of Trustees even as Prime Minister of Canada. <br>• Central Church served as a "gathered congregation" with members from throughout the city and the surrounding area. It functioned as a "Mother Church" to many other Methodist and subsequently United Churches. <br>• cornerstone laid May 12, 1904 by Mrs. James Lougheed on behalf of her uncle, Lord Strathcona. <br>• building officially opened and dedicated February 5, 1905 as a "conspicuous Tribute to Calgary's Progressive Spirit." <br>• at the time of the dedication the minister was Reverend George Kerby. He left Central Methodist in 1911 to become Principal of Mount Royal College. <br>• February 29, 1916 - interior was severely damaged by fire which destroyed the organ and most of the woodwork in the main auditorium. Restored and re-opened in April 1917. Reconstruction architects were J.E. Burrell and R.E. McDonnell. <br>• known as Central Methodist until the Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians entered into a union in 1925 resulting in the formation of the United Church of Canada. Central Methodist was renamed Central United, Calgary's first United Church. <br>• congregation became the largest in Canada following 1925 union. <br>• played an important role in the secular and cultural life of the community. Functioned at various times as a meeting hall, polling booth, community concert hall (for appropriate concerts). Throughout the 1930s was a significant player in Calgary's social gospel movement. United Farmers of Alberta and the Wheat Pool held conventions in the auditorium. <br>• 1927 - R.B. Bennett donated a peal of tubular chimes in memory of his mother. <br>• 1948 - $120,000 Christian Education Wing addition opened - a three storey stone and brick auditorium / gymnasium, nursery and banquet room with a seating capacity of 400. <br>• January 6, 1952 - Memorial Chapel addition dedicated to Reverend George Kerby <br>• 1955-1956 - an $85,000 addition including two new entrances as well as the widening of the basement to make extra room for Sunday School. At this time membership was 3,392 and Sunday School was 800. <br>• 1961 - church windows replaced. Original Gothic windows streamlined to appear more modern. <br>• 1975 - 100th Anniversary and the publication of the church history entitled They Gathered at the River. <br>• over the years, as property values increased, the question of relocating the church outside the downtown core has been discussed. R.B.Bennett believed it was important to keep the church downtown as a "testimony to the fact that material values were not the only values in the world, but that spiritual values were those that were eternal." <br>• in 1982 members voted on a motion from the board of elders calling for demolition of the church and construction of a new church and office building on the site. Decision was made to retain the original church building and location. <br>• 1990 interior renovations in the central auditorium <br>• 1994 - removal of the 1955 Modern Style entrances <br>• 1996, Central United, in partnership with the Stephen Avenue Heritage Area Society, began the restoration of the historic character and integrity of the original 1905 structure. This process resulted in the removal of the 1956 brick and glass north entrance, the restoration of the sandstone, and the reconstruction of the north bay window. <br>• 1997 the Church was presented with the City of Calgary's Citizens' Heritage Awards by the Heritage Advisory Board in recognition of the restoration.
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