Description of Historic Place
St. Paul's Anglican Church is a large Gothic Revival inspired, Island sandstone church located on a large treed lot. Although the entrance faces Church Street, its large spire and tower face Prince and Grafton Street. Designed by famous Island architect, William Critchlow Harris, the building is the third church used by the Parish and a local landmark. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of St. Paul's Anglican Church is in its association with the very old Parish of St. Paul's; its fine Gothic Revival influenced architecture; and its importance to the streetscape.
When Prince Edward Island became a separate colony in 1769, one hundred Pounds was set aside as a stipend for a Church of England clergyman. Unfortunately, it would be some time before the Anglicans of Charlottetown would have a church and regular services. The Reverend John Caulfield was appointed rector in 1769, but never set foot on the Island. Reverend John Eagelson, a missionary, held services in many parts of the young colony in 1768 until 1773. Theophilus DesBrisay was appointed rector in September 1774. He endured a three year ordeal, which included being captured by American Privateers.
The first entry in the Parish records was 21 August 1777. The Parish, at this point without a church, met in Richardson's Coffee House Ballroom until 1790 when Lieutenant Governor Fanning purchased a house and designated one area within for services.
The first real church constructed for St. Paul's was to the west of the current church, where the Memorial Hall portion of the Confederation Centre of the Arts is situated. The church was begun in 1795, but was not completed until approximately 1803. It was used for both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland and was never consecrated. Lieutenant Governor Fanning's family donated the Tables of the Lords Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Apostles Creed to the Parish to be hung in the original church. Today they hang in the present church.
A second church was constructed just south of the present one, but it was blown down in a severe windstorm in 1833, but was later rebuilt.
Finally, in 1896 the present St. Paul's Anglican Church was constructed. Local architect, William Critchlow Harris was hired to design the beautiful structure and the talented contractors, H and S Lowe were hired to build the church. The wood carver was W.C. Whitlock and Mr. Howatt was hired to paint. The church cost only 18 500 dollars to construct.
St. Paul's Church is Gothic Revival influenced in its style. The Gothic Revival style was a common choice for Island churches. It was a revival based on the English and French Gothic precedents from the 12th and 15th centuries. Harris leaned more toward the French Gothic tradition when he designed his churches and St. Paul's was no exception. The church was designed like a musical instrument; therefore, the acoustics and sightlines were excellent. The newspapers of the day touted the acoustic quality achieved in part by the octagonal shape of the sanctuary and the wooden groined roof covering the chancel and the nave.
Among its many features, the church contains an oak communion table and pulpit designed by William Crtichlow Harris, as well as a beautiful Casevant Frères organ that was installed in 1936 and rebuilt in 1996. Many items have survived from the previous churches including the two chalices used in 1777 and imported stained glass and rose windows, part of which existed in the second church building, but were enlarged and placed in the new structure. The first service was held 10 May 1896 and the church was consecrated in July of the same year.
Many of Charlottetown's most prominent citizens were members of St. Paul's Church including Thomas Haviland, Lieutenant Governors Sir Aretas Young and Donald Campbell. In fact, Young and Campbell are both buried in crypts within the church. A beautiful church and local landmark, St. Paul's is a source of pride to its members and the City of Charlottetown. Situated in an area with a great number of historic buildings and churches, St. Paul's Church contributes greatly to the heritage character of the area.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Gothic Revival influenced character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of St. Paul's Anglican Church:
- The asymmetrical massing of the church
- The style and placement of the Island sandstone, with its Nova Scotia Freestone trim, including the stringcourses and window and door surrounds
- The cross gable slate roof with rough stone trim within the gables
- The conical roof on the east end of the building
- The tall tower and spire on the north east section of the building with its finials at the base and the cross atop the spire
- The style and placement of the windows, including the tall lancet arched windows with tracery, the grouped rectangular windows, the grouped lancet windows in the gables, as well as the very old stained glass and rose windows
- The style and placement of the doors, including the lancet arched door of the west side of the building and the black panel doors
- The buttresses along the sides of the church
- The octagonal vestries of the west side which were added in approximately 1920
Other character-defining elements of St. Paul's Church include:
- The location of the church on its large lot lined by mature trees
- The gentle bell that chimes every half hour