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Old Meeting House

2408 Highway No. 3, Barrington, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/08/04

Old Meeting House, Barrington, front elevation, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Front Elevation
Old Meeting House cemetery, Barrington, NS, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Old Meeting House, Barrington, side elevation, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Side Elevation

Other Name(s)

Old Meeting House
St. John's Anglican Church
Barrington Meeting House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/05/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located in the community of Barrington on Nova Scotia's southwestern coastline, the Old Meeting House is a two-storey wood framed structure with a steeply pitched gable roof and central entrance. The Old Meeting House was erected in the 1760s and is surrounded by a cemetery which is also included in its provincial designation as a historic place.

Heritage Value

The Old Meeting House is valued as one of the oldest non-conformist houses of worship in Canada and as an excellent example of an early New England style meeting house. It is the sole survivor of five such Congregationalist church buildings built in Nova Scotia and is also valued for its varied and continued use.

The English settlement of Barrington began circa 1761 when a group of fisherman from Cape Cod and Nantucket brought their families to the area to establish a community. Following the New England tradition of townships, the settlers founded their own civil government. They were without any permanent clergy and no one denomination was large enough to afford the construction of their own church. Beginning circa 1765 funds began to be raised via share holding to build a meeting house for both religious and civic gatherings.

The history of the building itself is somewhat unclear. Construction began circa 1771 and meetings were held at the site beginning at that time. Progress in making the building weather tight was slow; however the building was in regular use in the eighteenth century. The pews and interior finishes were not completed until 1841.

In November 1776 the first formal religious service was held at the Old Meeting House under the Reverend Samuel Wood. In 1780, Henry Alline of the New Lights laid the foundation for the Baptist movement in the area. Similarly Freeborn Garretson introduced Methodism to the area here in 1786.

Aside from Methodists and Baptists, the Old Meeting House was also used by Presbyterians and Anglicans. Over time however, individual congregations erected their own church buildings and a court house was erected across the street in 1841. Use of the building dwindled and it fell into disrepair. In the latter half of the twentieth century a local group rallied to save the building and it eventually became part of the Nova Scotia Museum and is open seasonally to the public.

A small graveyard surrounds the building, dating from the first English settlers. The earliest stone dates from 1766, that of Lettice Doane who died in childbirth. Together the graveyard and meeting house provide a tangible connection to the establishment of the community.

Source: Provincial Registry File No. 014

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements associated with the original use of Old Meeting House and its New England meeting house style include:

- two-storey form and massing;
- surrounding burial grounds and stones;
- clapboard cladding;
- central front entrance flanked by two windows on either side;
- three windows on second storey of front facade;
- steeply pitched gable roof with two diamond shaped frames, serving as simple sundials, at each gable end;
- detailed corner mouldings;
- painted face of clock on east side;
- plain cushionless wooden boxes with doors make up pews;
- chandelier;
- interior balcony and wooden wall pulpit with stairs and swinging doors;
- hand-hewn beams and wide floorboards;
- naturally grown knees for wall beams and larger knees for ceiling supports;
- wood frame windows.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements
Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Governing Canada
Politics and Political Processes
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Trustees of the Barrington Meeting House fonds can be found at the Cape Sable Historical Society. A minute book for the Township of Barrington is located at the Municipality of the District of Barrington offices.

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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