Description of Historic Place
St. John's Presbyterian Church, built in 1928, is a one-storey wood-frame and stucco building with an attached hall (1960-61) that stands on a corner site in a residential neighbourhood in north Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the 1928 building on its footprint.
St. John's Presbyterian Church, one of four Presbyterian facilities built in Winnipeg in the immediate aftermath of Protestant church union in the mid-1920s, is a modest yet well proportioned and finely detailed example of Late Gothic Revival design. By employing a straightforward style, durable, economical materials and a traditional interior with elegantly detailed ceilings, architects Gilbert Parfitt and Edgar Prain created a distinctive yet affordable expression of their clients' determination to retain Presbyterian ties rather than merge with other faith groups into the United Church of Canada. The building project was a major endeavour for a fledgling, largely working-class congregation, members of which had recently contributed to the completion of another church nearby before a split occurred over the merger issue. Still in use, St. John's Presbyterian retains a high degree of design and material integrity and blends well with its established North End residential neighbourhood.
Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minutes, July 17, 1989
Key elements that define the heritage character of the St. John's Presbyterian Church site include:
- the corner location at northwest Bannerman Avenue and Charles Street, one block north of the former St. John's Presbyterian (later United) Church (1914-23)
- the building's situation, slightly set back from the property lines, and its neighbourhood-compatible scale and materials
Key exterior elements that define the church's practical Late Gothic Revival design include:
- the modest height and T-shaped form, symmetrical and domestic in proportions, including a long rectangular nave with shallow corner porches, side aisles and transepts
- the simple materials, including the wooden superstructure clad in stucco, the wood detailing, etc.
- the deft combination of roof types, with a steep main gable roof that sweeps down on the west and east to hip-roofed wall dormers (four per side) and low cross-gabled transepts and hip-roofed porches
- the Gothic-influenced features, such as tapered piers at the corners and along the sides, trios of pointed arched windows in the upper front (south) and rear walls, Tudor-arched porch entrances, etc.
- the additional fenestration provided by pairs of tall multi-paned dormer windows, smaller flat-headed openings in trios and singles, some basement lights, etc.
- the modest decorative elements, such as half-timbering on the transepts, layered bargeboards, plain wooden window surrounds, stylized St. Andrew's cross atop the front gable, concrete staircases, etc.
- the date stone in the southeast corner of the eastern staircase with the inscription 'ST. JOHN'S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FOUNDED 1904 X ERECTED 1928'
Key elements that define the church's refined interior character include:
- the simple layout, including entrance porches with a parlour-nursery area in between, the long nave with straight rows of pews, the raised chancel set off by an elegant pointed arch, etc.
- the arcades of pointed arches on shaped columns that separate the side aisles from the central portion of the nave
- the overall volume of space enhanced by high ceilings, including the nave's impressive peaked ceiling criss-crossed by large wooden trusses and the chancel's barrel vault ceiling of panelled wood laid in narrow diagonal strips between slender beams
- the richness of colours provided by the dark-stained wood used in ceilings, window casings, baseboards, doors, etc.; and the lighter-stained plank flooring; the white-painted plaster walls and arcades; etc.
- the second-floor balcony over the parlour with glass windows that open on to the nave
- the restrained details and features, such as the built-in wooden pulpit, the cross-shaped mullions and transoms in side windows, the unpretentious pendant light fixtures, the wooden balcony staircase, etc.