Description of Historic Place
The Clifton United Church is a well preserved former Wesleyan Methodist chapel built in 1848-49. The plain style of the building is Colonial Georgian with a gable roof, corner pilasters, and simple two over two windows. It is situated in a picturesque setting on well manicured grounds near its cemetery. The designation includes the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The church is valued as one of the oldest houses of worship used by the United Church of Canada in Prince Edward Island; for its well preserved Colonial Georgian style; and for its contribution to the community of Stratford.
The Methodist familes of the area, known then as Lot 48, originally travelled to Charlottetown to attend services. By 1820, they became part of the Charlottetown circuit of the Methodist Society and held their own classes or services. In 1835, a cemetery was established on the site on a small corner of land donated by Captain James Kelly. There were four burials recorded for 1836-1839.
By 1848, subscription donations began for the construction of the current building. It was dedicated in the Spring of 1849. It is not certain who the architect of the church was, but Isaac Smith may have been involved. He is noted for such PEI icons as Fanningbank, Province House, and the Point Prim Lighthouse. Smith was also a prominent Methodist. In 1848, he became a travelling agent for the Nova Scotia British and Foreign Bible Society, whose aim was to supply Bibles to those in the Atlantic region.
It is known that the carpenter for the project was Christopher Smith, while James Connell was the plasterer. The simplisitic style of the building exhibits many Colonial Georgian elements. The proportions of the church are symmetrical and the trim details are limited to the corner pilasters, the eave returns of the gable roof, and the caps and sills of the two over two windows.
Many of the early family names of Lot 48 are associated with the founding of this church, including Mason, Kelly, Farquharson, Bovyer, and Mutch. The great grandparents of former Newfoundland premier, Joey Smallwood, are interred in the church's cemetery.
Due to its well preserved architectural style, its ongoing historic associations to the United Church in PEI, and for its contribution to the community of Stratford, the Clifton United Church has been designated by the Province of PEI.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8 File #: 4320-20/C4
The following character-defining elements illustrate the Colonial Georgian heritage value of the church:
- The overall massing of the structure with its one storey
- The wood framed construction
- The wood shingle cladding
- The gable roof with eave returns
- The corner pilasters
- The fenestration of the two over two windows and their wooden caps and sills
- The style, size, and placement of the brick chimney
- The small gable roofed entry porch
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the church near its cemetery on well manicured grounds
- The continued use of the church for services