Description of Historic Place
St. Stephen's Anglican Church and cemetery sit on a large, attractive lot in Tusket, Nova Scotia facing the Tusket River. This wooden Gothic Revival and Greek Revival style church was built in 1843. The building, cemetery and property are included in the municipal designation.
St. Stephen's Anglican Church is valued for its historical association with the New York Dutch Loyalists who settled in Argyle Township and it is also valued because it displays an interesting amalgam of Gothic Revival and Greek Revival styles.
The Loyalists, some of whom came to Tusket on the ship Cherry Bounce, were largely from New York State and New Jersey and were of Dutch descent. Those of Dutch descent belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church, which in doctrine was close to the Church of England. As at Clements in the Annapolis Valley, these Dutch Loyalists became Anglicans and as early as 1793, Anglicans and Dutch Reformed united in petitioning for a grant to erect a church. This was refused, probably because there were insufficient funds for a missionary. It was not until 1843 that a church was finally erected on land donated by Captain Abraham Blauveldt and his wife. The Bishop at the time, John Inglis, consecrated the church and the Reverend Richard Avery became the first rector. The congregation of this church was always small, largely due to the fact that by 1843 most of the original Tusket families had joined other congregations, primarily the Baptists.
For the remainder of the nineteenth century, St. Stephen's had its own rectors. Then economic conditions made it impossible to maintain a resident rector. From 1900 to his death seventeen years later, Jacob Blauveldt, as lay reader, kept the congregation together. Just before Blauveldt's death, the parish again had a resident priest who stayed for thirty years, Reverend Gordon T. Lewis 1916-1945. Today, St. Stephen's is ministered from Yarmouth by Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
St. Stephen's displays both Gothic Revival and Greek Revival style elements. The simple gable front building has a vestry addition at the rear, and a square tower to one side of the front elevation. The tower also serves as narthex (entrance porch). The Greek Revival aspects include the overall form of the structure, the cornice moulding and the deep frieze board. Most prominent of the Gothic Revival style elements are the pointed frieze shape of the windows, as well as the Gothic entrance door, and the flying buttress motif of the front elevation corners.
St. Stephen's is the oldest remaining church building in the village of Tusket and the oldest Anglican church building in the county. A few services are held here in the summer. At present, its future remains uncertain.
Source: Argyle Municipal Heritage Files, file #005
Exterior character-defining elements of St. Stephen's Anglican Church include:
- one-and-a-half storey wooden structure;
- steeply pitched gable roof;
- sidewalls each have two Gothic Revival style windows;
- small, clover-leafed cross situated on the peak of the building near the front;
- large, square tower built onto one corner, with Gothic Revival style doorway;
- smaller Gothic Revival style window located on one side of the tower;
- double Gothic Revival style apertures with slats located on the tower;
- flying buttress motif on the front elevation corners;
- vestry addition in the rear;
- return eaves on the main part of the building;
- cornice moulding;
- slender shaft mouldings running along the corners of the tower;
- cemetery surrounding the church, with original grave markers.