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ATHABASCA UNITED CHURCH

4817 - 48 Street, Athabasca, Alberta, T9S, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/05/31

Athabasca United Church Provincial Historic Resource, Athabasca (September 2000); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2000
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Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1913/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Athabasca United Church is an early twentieth century one-storey wood frame structure located on a sloping, double corner lot in the Town of Athabasca. It features twin corner towers of unequal height, pointed arched windows, and a gable roof.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Athabasca United Church lies in its association with the growth of Athabasca prior to World War One and its Gothic Revival architecture.

Founded as a Hudson's Bay Company (H.B.C.) post in 1875, the settlement at Athabasca initially developed as a vital transportation hub for the fur trade and the Klondike Gold Rush, connecting traders and prospectors with a vast land and river network extending into Northern Alberta and the Western Arctic. The community's transportation system was further developed in 1912, when the Canadian Northern Railway (C.No.R.) completed construction on the Edmonton and Slave Lake Railway to Athabasca. A land rush ensued the following year as settlers attracted by the area's abundant land and resources - especially natural gas - boarded trains and flocked to the town. The heady optimism of the times is evident in the large-scale of the Athabasca United Church (originally the Athabasca Methodist Church) built in 1913. One of Alberta's largest frame structures with a capacity exceeding 600 people, the church was built at the height of hopes for Athabasca, before railway lines bypassing the settlement brought the town's rapid expansion to an abrupt halt.

Adapting the Gothic Revival style of architecture to the particular needs and sensibilities of the community in Athabasca, well-known Edmonton architect Ernest William Morehouse designed the Athabasca United Church as an elegant, spacious building. The Gothic Revival style in evident in the twin corner towers, the trefoil gable window, and the pointed, arched windows. The church resembles other Protestant houses of worship in Alberta derived from the Gothic Revival style, but is distinguished by its use of wood as the primary building material and its roof supported by walls, rafters, and ceiling joists without any interior pillars. The plan of the church, with its many windows and almost square design, was intended to create an atmosphere of spaciousness and grandeur centred on the preacher proclaiming the Gospel.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1118)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Athabasca United Church include such features as:

Elements of the Gothic Revival style, including:
- mass, form, and style;
- gable roof with cross gables;
- twin corner towers with pinnacles and spires;
- pointed, arched windows with coloured glazing and arched doorways;
- wooden brackets and beams supporting roof;
- incidental Gothic detailing, including wood trefoils in gable ends.

Other significant features, including:
- taller north tower featuring three vented, pointed arched wood frames on each side;
- clapboard siding, diachromatic wood shingled roof and gable ends;
- decorative exterior elements, including dentils;
- fenestration pattern and style, including double-hung sash windows;
- floor plan;
- original mouldings, wainscoting, and doors;
- collection of original furnishings and religious artifacts;
- hardwood flooring.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1985/05/31

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Settlement
Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Historic

Architect / Designer

Ernest William Morehouse

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1118)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0531

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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