Description of Historic Place
Central Christian Church is a brick and stone church located on Kent Street in Charlottetown. Designed by prominent architect, William Critchlow Harris, the building has a massive feel despite its small size. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of Central Christian Church lies in its association with the congregation of Central Christian Church; its W.C. Harris architecture; and its importance in supporting the Kent Street streetscape.
This building is the second Church used by the congregation. The group was originally identified as Baptist, but became their own group in the middle of the 19th Century. The congregation had built their first church on University Avenue or what was then known as the Malpeque Road. The 15 August 1878 edition of the local paper, the Patriot described the church as "bright and cheerful" and measuring thirty two by sixty two feet with a gallery in the back. The reporter estimated that the church would seat approximately 450 people. The building still exists today.
In February 1897, a division took place within the group and half left to form a new church. The oldest record book of the Central Christian Church refers to a discussion regarding the necessity of withdrawing from the Church of Christ. By this time, they were meeting in the YMCA Hall and would go on to meet in various buildings throughout Charlottetown, including a building on the corner of Prince and Grafton streets. Their first minister was George Manifold who served until 1899. R.F. Whiston then became minister in July of that year. The congregation had been discussing the building of a new church as early as 1897. It was Whiston who encouraged the congregation to take action and begin building.
By October 1899, the land for the current building had been chosen and the stones for the foundation were on the site. The congregation had accepted a design by prominent architect William Critchlow Harris and hired the contractors H. and S. Lowe to build the beautiful church. It would cost a total of 4300 dollars. The 22 September 1900 edition of the Daily Patriot highlighted the "magnificent ceiling work, the perfect harmony of colours, the excellent seating arrangement and the good acoustic properties..." of the new church. Although a small church, Harris has achieved a massive appearance with his use of large areas of brick, with relatively small windows. The Gothic entrance door at the side of the building passes beneath a medieval style conical roofed tower. Harris' tell tale clipped gable and hipped roof create a horizontal line that adds to the overall impression of size. His characteristic bargeboard with drilled holes is readily apparent. The use of the rough-hewn stone bands and details convey a sense of strength as well.
An annex was added to the building in 1922 that fit nicely with the church's overall design. H. Arthur designed it and the contractors were the Lowes once again. The main craftsman was Charles Hamm. During the same year, the Ladies Aid ordered a pipe organ and paid for it in part with funds from various activities including teas. Further renovations were carried out in 1974, when the annex was opened up to enlarge the church.
The Act to incorporate Central Church in Charlottetown received assent in June 1900. The other church of Christ located on University Avenue operated for a number of years, but eventually closed its doors and the building was sold to another church group.
A striking and unique church, the Central Christian Church is a source of pride to its members and the City of Charlottetown. The Church contributes a great deal to the Kent Street streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of Central Christian Church:
- The overall massing of the building
- The size and shape of the brick exterior, with its stone bands and rough hewn stone trim
- The clipped gable rooflines, with decorative hole drilled bargeboard found on a number of Harris designed homes
- The large, squat tower on the west side of the church with its rectangular windows and roughhewn stone trim
- The style and placement of the relatively small windows set in under their attractive window surrounds, particularly the lancet arched windows and the larger grouped windows that together form an arch
- The style and placement of the heavy doors, particularly the heavy double front doors with tracery above, set under a heavy lancet arched stone door surround.
- The style and location of the steep gable roof porches
- The brick and stone trimmed buttresses
- The decorative stone bartizan of the east facade
- The location of the church on Kent Street