Description of Historic Place
Knox Presbyterian Church is an imposing stone and brick structure constructed in Neepawa in 1892 and situated on a corner lot adjacent to two other churches. The provincial designation applies to the church and the four lots its grounds occupy.
Knox Presbyterian Church is a rare early example of a large and exceptional Romanesque Revival church in Manitoba. Its heavy exterior brick and stone surfaces with round-arched openings, decorative brickwork and pyramidal bell tower are typical of the kind, with the interior based on an auditorium plan. Designed by Portage la Prairie architect James Allen MacDonald, the structure recalls an era of sophisticated church design ushered in by the arrival of trained architects in Manitoba in the late 1800s. The massive building, which is predated by only three other remaining Presbyterian churches in the province, also reflects the early patterns of Scottish settlement in the Neepawa area. The settlers' commitment to Presbyterian denominationalism and their Scottish heritage is reflected in the Knox congregation's decision to remain outside the 1925 union of Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists in the United Church of Canada.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minute, October 17, 1987
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Knox Presbyterian Church site include:
- its location on the southwest corner of First Avenue and Mill Street in a mixed residential and commercial area of Neepawa, beside two other churches
- the well-groomed grounds, including the south lawn and mature trees throughout
Key elements that define the church's fine Romanesque Revival-style exterior include:
- the rectangular multi-storey form, constructed of white brick and cut stone on a fieldstone base, and composed of a variety of asymmetrical volumes, including the projecting bays of the nave
- the steeply pitched roofs with cross-gable and hipped sections, parapet gables with finials and dormers
- the northeast tower with staggered openings of various shapes, all with cut stone voussoirs and sills; decorative brickwork under the cornice; corner pilasters topped with pyramidal pilaster caps and finials; and a high pyramidal roof with a finial
- the various sizes and arrangements of openings, with round-arched windows featuring cut stone sills, arched voussoirs and stained glass, notably the north, south and east banks of three windows, and the more utilitarian rectangular double-hung windows with modest glazing bars
- the details, including the stepped-back brick buttresses with limestone caps, the east-facing double entrance doors of oak with a large coloured-glass fanlight, etc.
Key elements that define the church's complex interior layout, finishes and details include:
- the largely intact auditorium plan composed of a square nave organized by U-shaped pews and accessed through three vestibules, and a multi-purpose rectangular volume in the northwest corner
- the intact elm pews flanking a centre aisle, each with a unique curved form and length designed to fit into the larger whole
- the complex, soaring vaulted ceilings with striking curved wooden ribs and the centremost section adorned with decorative wood planking
- the curved pulpit platform located in the southwest corner, made intimate by a lowered ceiling, ornamental wainscotting, three connected ministers' chairs and the choir gallery behind
- the details and finishes, including the wood plank floors, plaster and lath walls, wooden doors, metal heating grates, period woodwork of red and white cedar with an oil finish throughout the building, mouldings, wainscotting, etc.