Description of Historic Place
St. James United Church is located in Spry Bay, Nova Scotia. It is a small wood-frame building with a steeply pitched roof and a square tower. It is located on a small, rectangular lot which also contains a cemetery. The designation applies to the church, cemetery and the lot it occupies.
St. James United Church is valued for its importance to the founding families of Spry Bay as an important meeting place for religious services and community activity. In 1872 a group of local men gathered, under the leadership of a Mr. Walters, to erect a Presbyterian Church on land sold for one dollar by Henry Leslie.
The lumber used to make the church was cut from the woods surrounding the nearby Grand Lake, hewn using broad axes and hauled to the site by teams of horses, where the boards were then sawn with a pit saw. The building was nearly complete when the August Gale of 1872 struck the coast, knocking the church down. Under the direction of the MacLeod brothers, the debris was removed and work resumed. On January 24, 1874 Reverend John Waddell and Dr. Sedgewick of Middle Musquodoboit formally opened the church.
The church continued to be used as a place of worship and meeting until 1969 when it was no longer used, and became vacant. In 2005 a non-profit group was established - The Friends of St. James United Church Heritage Society - to care for the Church.
Additional heritage value lies in the builidng's associations with the sea. The community of Spry Bay was originally a fishing village, and the location of this church is significant. Situated at the top of a hill, overlooking Spry Bay, the sight and sounds of the sea are always present. Many ships were wrecked in Spry Bay. In 1873 a full-rigged ship, the "Railway Queen," went ashore at Taylors Head and was totally wrecked. The great bowsprit was salvaged, re-worked, and used for the gallery at the back of the church.
Architecturally, St. James United Church is valued for its construction, building materials, and simplicity of style. Little changed, the Church has retained its original shape and form and, while no longer used for religious purposes, its value to the community remains unchanged.
Source: HRM Heritage Property File 43 Old Taylor Head Road, Spry Bay, St. James United Church
The character-defining elements of St. James United Church relate to its Vernacular style and include:
- original form and massing;
- wood-frame construction with shingle cladding;
- steeply pitched roof with a moderate overhang;
- returned roof eaves with plain fascia board trim;
- wide corner boards;
- simple, flat roofed, square central tower over the front entrance with decorative fretwork at its peak;
- small projecting entrance, with a steeply pitched roof and returned eaves;
- tall nine-over-six, single hung wooden windows;
- location atop a hill, overlooking Spry Bay;
- surrounding cemetery and all grave markers.