Description of Historic Place
Central United Church is a large, late nineteenth-century building on Cumberland Street, across from the Town Square, that has become a landmark in the Old Town Heritage Conservation District of Lunenburg, N.S. Many features are immediately striking, including the two different towers and the large doors and windows of the main entranceway on the Cumberland Street elevation. The building is north facing and backs onto a slight slope, with no setback from the street, and a grassy area on the east side. There is access to the adjoining church hall from Lincoln Street. Designation extends to the building and surrounding property.
Central United Church is valued for its role in the community, as a landmark, and as a good example of ecclesiastical architecture in the Town of Lunenburg. This is the second Methodist church built in Lunenburg; the first Methodist church in Lunenburg was located on the other side of Town Square at Prince and Townsend Streets. In 1882, the congregation elected to build a larger church on the present lot, and commissioned the well-known Dartmouth (N.S.) architect Edward Elliot to design a building. Its location in the centre of Lunenburg's Old Town speaks to the importance and prosperity of this church's congregation in Lunenburg, as does the building's immense scale. In 1925 the Methodist Church was incorporated into the United Church of Canada, and this building was renamed Central United Church.
Unlike the other churches in Lunenburg, which were all built before this one, this building has an extremely tall and wide façade, measuring seventeen by thirty-four metres. The sense of height is further emphasized by a steep gable roof, a large central doorway and tall stained glass windows, and a frontal tower and a spire at opposite corners. At the same time, the immediacy of the entrance to the street and open interior suggests an invitation to the passing public. The interior of the Church is richly finished in oak and stained glass windows.
Source: Heritage Designation File 66400-40-41, Town of Lunenburg.
Character-Defining elements of Central United Church relate to its role as a place of worship, its prominence and prosperity in the local community, and to its unique architectural elements including:
- impressive large scale and vertical composition of the building, accentuated with large windows and doors, a steep gable roof fronting on the street and the tower and spire on the Cumberland Street elevation;
- cladding of the building entirely in wood in a uniform colour, with simply detailed cornerboards, wooden tracery on the windows, and varying courses of clapboard blending with the door and window mouldings, giving the building's appearance simplicity and detail simultaneously;
- bell tower at the northeast corner of the church, beginning with a square base and tapering to a octagon just below the cap. Each of the eight faces is decorated with the same motif and the tower has a bell-like cap, roofed in copper. The tower's windows and entrance are aligned with and similar to those of the nave;
- narrow, pointed spire at the northwest corner of the church, rising beside a slender brick chimney, both of which add to the sense of height. This is also echoed in a smaller turret at the southern peak of the gable roof on Lincoln Street;
- three centre-pointed doors on the front façade. The central one of these is sheltered beneath a slightly projecting cusped arch with the same decorative motif as the tower, and turned posts at either side;
- tall five-sided chancel, rising to meet the gable roof on the Lincoln Street façade. There is also a large vinyl-sided addition on the west side of the chancel, which is compatible with the main structure and does not detract from the original building's character;
- four-paned, double-tiered stained-glass windows centred on the front façade with single-paned double-tiered windows to either side and a round window above them; and a row of five symmetrically placed stained glass Gothic windows along either side of the nave;
- interior of the church, which is finished with heavy beams on the ceiling, oak chancel and pews, all of which contribute to the overall sense of width and solidity, reflecting the church's prominence in the local community.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Town of Lunenburg, 119 Cumberland Street, P.O. Box 129, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, B0J 2C0 .
Cross-Reference to Collection
Central United Church Archives, 136 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg.