Description of Historic Place
Zion United Church and Cemetery is a Gothic Revival style building with cemetery at the back of the property. It is located on Main Street in Liverpool, Queens County, Nova Scotia. Municipal heritage designation applies to the building, the cemetery and the lot on which they are situated.
Zion United Church came about as the result of the amalgamation of several Baptist denominations in 1925, particularly the existing Congregational and Methodist bodies in Liverpool at that time. Today it is valued for its history as descended from those earlier churches, for its association with Robert Barry and Simeon Perkins among others who were prominent and influential in the early years of the community as well as in provincial matters, and for its Gothic Revival architecture.
Previous to 1793, religious worship in Liverpool took place in private homes or in a meetinghouse that was eventually built and shared by both the Congregationalists and the Methodists. Robert Barry was instrumental in initially bringing Methodism to Liverpool in 1783. He had been born in Portsmouth, England and came to Liverpool by way of New York and Shelburne. In Liverpool he became an eminent merchant prominently connected with the largest commercial enterprises in the province. He was also known for his philanthropy as well as his Christian character and business wisdom.
The Methodist church of Liverpool was organized on March 13, 1793 in the home of Col. Simeon Perkins, one of the community's most notable personages. It was there that sixteen people met and made the decision to erect a meetinghouse of their own as soon as possible. At that time Col. Perkins had served as a Justice of the Peace and one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas for the County as well as a Judge of Probate. He was a Colonel Commander of the militia and served for thirty-four years as representative of the county in the general assembly. His diaries, which he kept for over forty years, document the growth of Liverpool during its early years and his wide-ranging business interests.
This is the third church building on this site, the first being a Methodist chapel built in 1793, which underwent several enlargements before it was decided to build a new church in 1860. That second church, also for the Methodist denomination, was dedicated in 1863 but burned in 1865. The following year, on February 27, the cornerstone for the present structure was laid and the completed building, designed by Rev. George Butcher, was opened on September 2 the same year. The building was one hundred eleven feet long and had a spire one hundred thirty-five feet high. In 1870 the spire and main structure were damaged in a severe windstorm after which the spire was replaced with the present square tower and short steeple. With the formation of Zion United Church in 1925, it was agreed that the Methodist church, being the larger building, would accommodate the new union church. Artefacts from the earlier Congregational and Methodist churches were displayed in the sanctuary as reminders of the origins of the present church body. In 1955 the exterior wooden buttresses were removed and the building's frame was braced by iron rods spanning the interior from side to side. Also at that time the exterior walls were clad with fireproof asbestos shingles.
The cemetery that exists behind Zion United Church has probably been in existence since the first church building on this site was completed, the earliest burial recorded being in 1794. Col. Simeon Perkins and family and Robert Barry and family are among those buried here.
Source: Municipal heritage property files, “Zion United Church and Cemetery”, Region of Queens Municipality, Nova Scotia.
The character-defining elements of Zion United Church include:
- location on Main Street in Liverpool;
- cemetery located behind church;
- narrow setback from street;
- grassed lot surrounding building.
The character-defining elements of the Gothic Revival architecture of Zion United Church include:
- symmetrical facade with centred entrance;
- wood frame construction;
- tall lancet windows;
- steeply pitched gable roof.
The character-defining elements of Zion United Church Cemetery include:
- location behind church;
- grass covered plots;
- wrought iron fencing around some family plots;
- mature trees;
- original grave markers.