Description of Historic Place
The Elgin United Church is a sandstone and limestone building with twin towers and is located at 77 Main St. in the Village of Elgin. Construction was completed by 1894, using materials from the previous church that had been on the property, and was overseen by local builder, Fred Tabor of Morton. The addition of a Centennial Room was completed in 1967 and renovations to the roof and pointing of the stone were completed in 1994.
The Township of South Crosby recognizes the Elgin United Church for its heritage values in By-Law No. 28-86.
Ebenezer Halladay, who was responsible for granting the land that the church now stands upon played a significant role in the development of Elgin throughout the nineteenth century. He was responsible for selling lots along Main Street and was instrumental in the establishment of several early community gathering places. Ebenezer donated land for the first two schools in the village, the South Crosby Community Hall, the United Church, and the village cemetery.
In 1857, the Methodist Episcopal Church was built on this property and within 15 years of completion, the stone church was found to be unstable. During a service, in 1873, a cracking sound rang through the building, causing the minister and congregation to flee from the church to finish the service outdoors. This incident alongside a joining of two different branches of the Methodist Church in Elgin in 1884 eventually led to calls for the construction of a new church. In 1893, what had been the Methodist Episcopal Church was demolished. In that same year construction of a new church began. This building, which would prove to be more structurally reliable, was large enough to house the now unified Methodist congregations in Elgin. The construction was completed in 1894 under the supervision of Fred Tabor of Morton, who had also helped construct the Red Brick Schoolhouse in Elgin a decade earlier. Fred Tabor is reputed to have been a resourceful individual who used volunteer labour and constructed the walls of the new structure from stones used in the first church. Additionally, the stones used to construct the new church were identical to stones used for the building of the nearby Rideau Canal.
The United Church of Elgin reflects upon the evolution of the Methodist congregation in Elgin, as its construction marked the joining of the Methodist branches in the village in the late nineteenth century. Its adoption of the name, Elgin United Church in 1925 also marked the inception of the United Church of Canada which was created through the union of Methodist, Congregational and some Presbyterian congregations. The Elgin United Church has served as a place of worship for over 100 years with tangible and intangible features also recalling the earlier structure which served as a place of worship between 1857 and 1884. The Elgin United Church is an important landmark, as it has served as a gathering place for the area residents for 130 years.
The Elgin United Church is a fine example of church architecture that incorporates design elements from the Roman, Gothic, and Victorian architectural styles.
Sources: Township of South Crosby By-Law 28-86; Sue Warren, Hub of the Rideau: A History of the South Crosby Township, Township of South Crosby (1997); Township of Rideau Lakes L.A.C.A.C; Heritage Walking Tour of Elgin (2004).
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Elgin United Church include the:
- sandstone and limestone exterior
- twin towers with six arched windows and four rectangular windows
- curved archway framing the entrance, with stone voussoirs
- stone parapet gable with stone finials
- stone voussoirs above semi-circular stained glass window located in the stone parapet gable
- semi-circular altar along the west facade with three stained glass windows