Description of Historic Place
St. John’s Anglican Church is located at the corner of Church and Prince Streets in the central business district of Truro, NS. Constructed in an English Gothic style in 1873, the church is distinguished by a steeply-pitched slate roof, and a crenellated tower on the northwest corner. There is a separate church hall of similar style and materials to the north of the church. The heritage designation applies to the church building, the hall, and the surrounding grounds.
The heritage value of St. John’s Anglican Church is both historical and spiritual in nature, being the principal place of worship for a congregation whose roots extend back to the earliest days of the Truro township. Construction of the first St. John’s, a wood-frame structure on the site of the present building, began in 1821 and was completed in 1825, when it was consecrated by Dr. John Inglis, Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia.
Construction of the present building began in 1871 to plans drawn up by architect William Thomas of Montreal. The project proved to be far more costly and time-consuming than anticipated, and the church was not formally opened until 1881, at which time the old building was removed. The tower and baptistery were erected in 1902, a set of chimes was added in 1906, and the church hall was completed in 1938.
St. John’s was the first church building to be constructed within the urban centre of Truro, and the current building is the oldest surviving church building in Colchester County.
The church is also valued for its historical associations with Rev. John Burnyeat and Archdeacon J. A. Kaulbach, two rectors of the church and leaders of the community whose contributions to the town have been formally recognized by the naming of streets in their honour.
Architecturally, the church is unique in the region in terms of its construction materials and design. Highly reminiscent of an English parish church, it clearly reflects the British Imperial values that were held by most Truro residents in the Victorian period and early twentieth century.
Source: Planning Department, Town of Truro, file 10MNS0003
External character-defining elements of St. John’s Anglican Church consist of:
- all building elements realted to the basic English Gothic style, including: form and massing, with added transepts; semi-circular baptistery on the west end of the north wall; projecting porch on the south wall; square tower containing triple lancet windows in a short middle segment, supporting a larger bell tower with large single lancet-shaped openings; and squared tower top with crenellations and small corner turrets.
- original window and door elements, including: lancet windows containing stained glass, outlined by stone and topped by segmented Gothic arches, extending into cross gables projecting through the eaves; and west window and baptistery containing stained glass lined in stone tracery.
- original building materials, including: wall surfaces of roughly-dressed dark olive-grey freestone; some freestone of a different colour in the north nave wall; and roof covered in glazed slate tiles with decorative patterns on the south side.
- raised pedestal bounded by a low concrete wall with wrought-iron fence;
- generous setback from Prince Street providing a sweeping view of the church buildings;
- park-like lawn on the south side marking the location of the first church structure;
- mature trees providing shade and reducing the level of street noise.
External character-defining elements of St. John’s Anglican Church Hall’include:
- basic form and massing;
- lancet windows in the western façade and a stone cross at the peak;
- walls of roughly-dressed freestone in the same colour as the church.
Internal elements that define the church’s heritage character include:
- exposed roof trusses wrought of southern pine;
- pews and interior finish of native ash;
- wainscoting of carved ash in the chancel;
- memorial stained glass windows and plaques;
- altar, pulpit, lectern and other fixed elements associated with divine worship or the history of the congregation.