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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
St. Ambrose Anglican Church is an early twentieth century, one and one-half storey building built in the Gothic Revival style. Located on two lots in a residential district in the Town of Redcliff, St. Ambrose was constructed using clinker bricks and features pointed glass windows and a circular rose window on the main facade.
The heritage value of the St. Ambrose Anglican Church, constructed in 1914, lies in its architectural significance as an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style. The use of local clinker bricks also contributes to the site's heritage value not only as a fine Albertan example of the use of that material, but also as a testimony to the brick production industry in the development of the Redcliff community.
During the Victorian era, Gothic Revival became the style of choice for ecclesiastical architecture in England, due to the efforts of such arbiters of style as John Ruskin and the Ecclesiologists. The Ecclesiologists promoted the Gothic Revival style as quintessentially English and as representative of a period of church architecture that was particularly admirable. Across Canada, the Gothic Revival style was adopted by Protestant denominations that had their origins in England. Alberta was no exception to this, and Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches in Alberta displayed their ties to the mother country by almost universally employing some form of Gothic Revival architecture. The St. Ambrose Anglican Church has the steeply sloping gable roof, buttresses and pointed windows characteristic of the Gothic Revival style. Rather than emulating more complex urban models, this church is patterned on village churches typical of rural England. The building appears massive and plain, with simple window and door openings that leave large areas of wall unbroken. Inside, the simple open space spanned by wooden trusses carries on the impression. The variety of Gothic Revival architecture seen in the St. Ambrose Anglican Church is not common in Alberta, and is particularly linked with the Anglican Church. Other examples include St. Luke Anglican Church in Red Deer (1898-1906) and the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer (1904) in Calgary, both of which are built of sandstone.
The community of Redcliff had flourished in the early twentieth century due to the booming brick production industry. The Redcliff Brick and Coal Company, one of the largest producers of brick in the area prior to 1914, provided all of the clinker bricks for St. Ambrose Anglican Church. Because they had been overfired, clinker bricks were often considered undesirable. Their irregular and burnt appearance, however, found favour with some creative designers, architects, and bricklayers. The striking umber, sienna, and cadmium colours of this brick type commended its use to many more. Although likely selected for their ready availability, the clinker bricks used to accent the exterior of St. Ambrose also evoke the flint cobbles found in many English stone prototypes. The application of this material, so central to the early growth and prosperity of Redcliff, is imaginative in its evocation of Gothic Revival English church architecture.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des.1379)
Character-defining elements of the St. Ambrose Anglican Church include such features as:
- elements of the simplified yet sophisticated Gothic Revival style that emulate the features of rural English parish churches;
- size, form, and massing;
- Gothic arched doorway featuring decorated sandstone extrados and keystone;
- original Gothic-style entry door;
- the steeply sloping gable roof, buttresses and pointed windows;
- datestone featuring cross design and "LAUS DEO AD MCM XIV";
- decorative stained glass rose window on the west front;
- concrete and sandstone elements in the decoration of the buttresses;
- original wood-screened vestry at the rear of the nave;
- the use of clinker bricks;
- brick baptismal font;
- original fir flooring;
- exposed wooden beams in the interior of the nave;
- stained glass windows featuring scenes from the lives of the four evangelists and St. Ambrose.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1379)
Cross-Reference to Collection