Description of Historic Place
This small well preserved gable roofed church is located in West Covehead and is one of the oldest churches in the Province. It features Classical Revival detailing including a symmetrical facade, wide corner boards and eave returns. The tall Gothic windows have decorative tracery and the central double entrance door has a transom window with a broken pediment above supported by pilasters.
This church is valued for its Classical Revival architectural elements, for its association with the history of the Presbyterian and United churches in PEI, and for its contribution to the heritage character of West Covehead.
The Presbyterian faith came to the Covehead area in 1791 when it was part of the preaching circuit of Rev. James MacGregor, a pioneer clergyman from Pictou, Nova Scotia. This circuit was then very large and included St. Peters Bay and Fortune in eastern PEI.
By 1806, West Covehead became part of the first organized Presbyterian congregation in PEI. The Rev. Peter Gordon was inducted as the first minister. He was also responsible for St. Peters and Fortune. By 1925, West Covehead was one of the congregations which voted to join the United Church of Canada.
The early members of this church had come to PEI in June 1770 on the Falmouth. They were part of a settlement scheme arranged by the proprietor of the land in the area, James Montgomery, Lord Advocate for Scotland. The communities of Brackley Point, Covehead and Stanhope grew and thrived basing their economies on agriculture, fisheries, shipbuilding, and later tourism.
The current church was constructed in 1837 and replaced two previous buildings. The first was destroyed by fire and the second was later moved off the site to the corner of the MacLauchlan and MacCann Roads.
The current building is a fine example of a rectangular Meeting House with Classical Revival elements. These include the fine broken pediment above the double entrance door and the wide eaves with eave returns. The interior features an elaborate balcony supported by columns.
Notable figures associated with the history of the church include Rev. Edward Pidgeon who served from 1811 to 1820. His grandson, Rev. George C. Pidgeon, became the first Moderator of the United Church of Canada in 1925. Rev. James Allan, who served from 1846 to 1890 was the longest serving minister of the church and his descendants still reside in the community.
The church remains an important cultural landmark in the community of West Covehead.
Source: Heritage Places records, PEI Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File #: 4320-20/S4
The heritage value of the church is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the wood frame and one-and-one-half storey massing
- the gable roof with brick chimney
- the eave returns above wide corner boards
- the brackets under the eaves
- the double entrance doors topped by a fanlight
- the broken pediment supported by pilasters above the doors
- the symmetrical façade
- the tall Gothic arch windows with decorative tracery
- the small Gothic arch window in the front facade centred near the peak above the entrance
- the location of the church on its original site near its cemetery