Description of Historic Place
The Zion Lutheran Church is located on Fox, York and Cornwallis Streets on a slight slope in Old Town Lunenburg, a Heritage Conservation District in Lunenburg. This large wooden church with stone and concrete foundation has a tall steeple at the Fox Street corner, a second tower at the southwest corner of the building and green space at the western side of the building. The York Street façade has an addition at its western end. The building and property are located in the provincial designation.
The Zion Lutheran Church is valued as the home of Canada's oldest Lutheran congregation. As well, it is valued as an architectural landmark in Old Town Lunenburg, with a steeple that can be seen for kilometres.
When German Lutheran settlers first arrived in 1753, the settlers held services in the open air and later at St. John's Anglican Church. The first church on this site was consecrated in 1772 but then replaced in 1840 with a second church. But by 1888 this church had also grown too small and was taken down. The third church that was built is the one that stands there today.
The present building dates from 1890 and was designed in the Late Gothic Revival style. The architect for this structure was Henry David Busch, a prominent Halifax architect, born in Hamburg in 1825. Builders for the structure were George W. Beohner & Sons.
The church's long nave runs the length of the block on Cornwallis Street, with an ornately decorated gable end on Fox Street. The dentil courses and stained glass windows are among the most noticeable elements of the nave. Two asymmetrical towers flank the front façade, each with a different design. The larger one has a pointed arch doorway oriented to the corner of Fox and Cornwallis Streets, and mullioned lancet windows on the upper storeys. It also has a tall spire housing the bell, which is highly visible from many points in Lunenburg, including the harbour approaches. The second tower is pyramidal with windows of various shapes and sizes, making it appealing to the eye. The large hall to the rear of the church, known as Artemus Hall, was added in 1946 and serves as a meeting place and Sunday school.
The commanding scale and vertical composition of the Zion Lutheran Church speak to the fundamental importance of the Lutheran congregation in Lunenburg from its settlement to the present day.
Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 205, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS
Character-defining elements of the Zion Lutheran Church relating to its Gothic Revival style include:
- vertical composition and large scale of the building, accentuated with a highly visible, asymmetrical façade and spire;
- two towers at either end of the front façade; the western one with circular and lancet windows and a short, pyramidal tower with a finial and louvred gablet ; the other with a tall spire, the main entranceway, small louvred gablets on each side, and lancet windows on each storey;
- Saint Antoine-Marie bell housed in the taller tower;
- use of contrasting window styles on the whole building, including large stained glass windows and gothic windows on the nave, a triangular attic window with curved edges in the gable end, ascending paired mullion windows in the spire tower, an 'oculus' window and mullion windows in the shorter tower, and arched transom windows over the entranceways;
- strongly defined entranceways, one with a set of brick steps leading up to it in the southeastern tower, the other at ground level in the southwestern tower; both have double hung doors and pointed arch transom windows that draw in the viewer;
- wooden clapboard cladding, with dentil courses at each storey, moulded wooden belt courses and steep gable roof, which is echoed in the smaller gable roofs over the large windows at the sides of the nave, smaller entrances and the hall at the rear;
- Artemus Hall located at the northern end of the church, that was added in 1946, used as a community centre for the congregation, with a roof and window design that echoes the nave and demonstrates the unity of the community centre and the actual place of worship.