Trinity United Church
First Methodist Church
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Trinity United Church is a large brick, Gothic Revival influenced church, located near the corner of Prince and Richmond Street on a large lot. Originally named First Methodist Church, the Church became part of the United Church of Canada in 1925 and was renamed Trinity United Church. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of Trinity United Church lies in its association with the early Wesleyan Methodist community of Charlottetown, its role as the oldest church still being used in Charlottetown and its importance to the Prince Street streetscape.
The Wesleyans, or Methodists, had established a presence on Prince Edward Island in the late 1700s. They met in private homes until 1813, when they built their first chapel on the North side of Richmond Street, between Queen and Pownal Streets. They ceased meeting in this chapel in approximately 1835, when they built a new chapel on the corner of Prince and Richmond Streets. Their first service in the new chapel was held on the 9 July 1835 with the resident minister, J.P. Heatherington, leading the service. The building was approximately 42 by 55 feet long however, because of a rapidly increasing membership, the chapel was enlarged twice in 1840 and 1847.
Due to various revivals over the next decades, the congregation continued to grow in size and it soon became apparent that a new church was required. In 1863-1864, the congregation built the current Trinity United Church along the south side of the wooden chapel. It was a much larger, brick building that would seat 1200. Thomas Alley and Mark Butcher, both architects and members of the congregation, were chosen to draw up the plans.
The church was to be of a simple design. The reverend presiding over the laying of the cornerstone by the wife of Lt. Governor George Dundas on 25 May 1863 stated, “No rich carving in stone or fancy moulding will attract the eye... Its peculiar excellence will be its facility for the preaching and hearing of the gospel of our blessed Lord.” The dedication of the church took place 13 November 1864. This church was originally named the First Methodist Church, however after the Methodist Church became part of the United Church of Canada in 1925, the church was renamed Trinity United Church.
Another church named Grace Methodist opened on Upper Prince in 1877. Grace Methodist united with the First Methodist church in 1917.
Trinity United Church has been renovated a number of times with a Karn Morris organ being installed in 1909. The memorial stained glass windows, that had been created by MacAusland’s of Toronto, had to be moved to adjoining arches to accommodate the organ that was placed in the centre of the eastern wall. In 1963, the church had to be repaired when a bolt of lightning hit a chimney and then tore through the building. Pieces of the chimney were scattered as far as Grafton Street!
Despite various renovations, Trinity United Church stands out as the oldest church building in Charlottetown still being used for worship. It is a beautiful structure and a source of great pride to its congregation and the City of Charlottetown.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Gothic Revival inspired character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of Trinity United Church:
- The overall massing and symmetry of the building
- The large buttresses trimmed with freestone on the north and south sides of the building
- The two large towers on either side of the facade, although they have been altered since the church was built, there have always been two towers on either side of the facade
- The large, lancet arched, stained glass window in the centre of the facade, as well as the lancet arched, stained glass windows along the north and south elevations of the building
- The style and placement of the doors, particularly the heavy wooden paneled door in the centre of the facade and the two doors on either side of the facade
- The large steps in the centre of the facade
- The gable roof with the decorative brick cornice
- The date stone 1863, marking the date the church was constructed, in the centre of the facade gable end
- The decorative brick work and the subtle freestone details
- The placement of the chimney
Other character-defining elements of Trinity United Church:
- The location of the building near the corner of Prince and Richmond Streets
- The continued use of the building for worship
Prince Edward Island
City of Charlottetown
City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
Cross-Reference to Collection