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Salem Chapel, British Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site of Canada

92 Geneva Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/11/21

General view of Salem Chapel, showing its central entry door on one gable end, set between two large pointed-arch windows, 1998.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1998.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Salem Chapel, British Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site of Canada
St. Catherines British Methodist Episcopal Church
Chapelle-Salem-de-la-British Methodist Episcopal Church
Salem Chapel
Chapelle Salem
Harriet Tubman Centre for Cultural Services
Harriet Tubman Centre for Cultural Services

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1851/01/01 to 1855/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/07/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site of Canada is a gable-fronted church set on a high foundation. Located at 92 Geneva Street, in St. Catharines, Ontario, this stucco-clad building is distinguished by its regularly arranged pointed-arch windows, modest scale and overall simplicity. Official recognition refers to the church on its footprint at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1999 because:
- it is typical of the auditory-hall design of underground railroad (UGRR)-related churches;
- through its association with famed UGRR conductor Harriet Tubman, it was an important locus of abolitionist activity in Canada.

Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church was an important centre of 19th-century abolitionist and civil rights activity in Canada. Built circa 1855, it replaced a smaller log church in order to accommodate St. Catherines’ growing community of refugees arriving via the underground railroad. Among them was Harriet Tubman, the famous UGRR conductor, who lived near Salem from 1852-1857 and personally led many refugees from the southern United States to safety in Canada. The heritage value of this church resides in its exceptional associations with the anti-slavery movement and the early UGRR black community to which it bears witness as illustrated by the church with its auditory-hall form, typical of early African Canadian churches.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1999, June 2001.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the corner siting in the heart of old St. Catherines;
- its rectangular footprint and cubic massing under a gabled roof;
- its central entry door on one gable end, set between two large pointed-arch windows and approached by a split staircase;
- its four regularly spaced pointed arch windows on each side elevation;
- its wood construction materials, wood trim, and stone foundation;
- its high basement;
- its open auditory-hall design with three-sided gallery;
- its simple interior finishes and surviving original fittings including the long single-log walnut benches.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1999/11/21

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations
Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

1900

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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