Description of Historic Place
The Advocate United Church, built circa 1857, is a large wooden church sitting on Highway 209 in the rural community of Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia. The two-and-one-half storey church is set slightly back from the edge of the road on a flat, open parking lot with no trees or greenery to hide its unique features. The building faces the village’s main street, that is dotted with large homes built in the same era, and is backed by the Bay of Fundy. The municipal designation covers the building and property.
The Advocate United Church is valued for its unique form and plan, which is atypical of the Protestant country churches usually built in Cumberland County during the mid to late nineteenth century. Value is also found in the church’s role as a gathering place for the community and congregation.
The Advocate United Church is a symmetrical, wooden, three-bay church with a number of unique architectural features that make it unlike most early Cumberland County churches. On the front of the church is a centered, two-and-a-half storey frontispiece that rises from the ground, passes through the pedimented gable and roof’s peak, and becomes a square tower topped with a bell tower, a hipped roof and an eight-sided steeple. The frontispiece has a double door entry on the ground floor, and near the roofline is an unusual twelve-sectioned round window. These two features are separated by a large, pointed-arch stained glass window that is Gothic Revival in style. The church’s side windows with their pointed arches and dog-eared labels also reflect the Gothic Revival influence. The Classical Revival influence is evident in the church’s symmetry, its pedimented front gable, the wide mounded frieze, and in the prominent pilasters that accent the outer edges of this unique church. The church was built circa 1857. In 1896 a number of alterations were made to the interior by local carpenters Alex and Clem McLellan. At that time, the church was raised, and the bottom level was added to be used for a vestry.
The Advocate United Church is regarded as having a central position in the community’s important role of offering spiritual and social comfort and support. Because of the rugged terrain, land travel was difficult in this area of Cumberland County; many communities were directly tied to the ship-related economy. Vessels, crews and cargoes travelled the rough, dangerous Nova Scotia shoreline along the Bay of Fundy, and many people sought comfort within the walls of the church.
The Advocate United Church was built for the Methodist congregation in Advocate Harbour and surrounding area. Methodism was a major Protestant denomination in the Maritimes and New England in the nineteenth century, and this church was built during a time when Methodism was rapidly spreading, and congregations were growing. In 1925, the Advocate Harbour congregation voted to become part of the United Church of Canada when the Council of Union Churches joined with other Canadian Methodists, Congregationalists and seventy percent of Presbyterians to create a unified Protestant denomination.
Source: “Heritage Properties County, Advocate United Church” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of the Advocate United Church include:
- original site, form and massing;
- two-and-one-half storey, wood construction with main floor of church on the second storey;
- frontispiece rising through pediment and roofline to square bell-tower topped with square windows, hip roof and eight-sided steeple;
- distinctive twelve-sectioned round window in frontispiece.
Character-defining Classical Revival elements of the Advocate United Church include:
- symmetry and balance in shape, form and placement of windows;
- medium-pitch roof with pedimented front gable and return eave on back gable;
- three-bay façade with central, double-door entry in front-facing gable end;
- wide, moulded frieze;
- prominent pilasters as cornerboards.
Character-defining Gothic Revival elements of the Advocate United Church include:
- four pointed-arch windows topped with dog-eared labels on each side of church;
- side windows edged in tracery and stained glass;
- four pointed-arch windows in steeple top;
- decorative stained glass Gothic window in frontispiece.