Description of Historic Place
Built circa 1913, the Chester United Baptist Church is an expanisve building that incorporates Gothic Revival architecutre themes located on King Street in Chester, Nova Scotia. The Municipal Heritage Designation applies to the building and surrounding property.
Chester United Baptist Church is valued for its age and history.
Constructed circa 1913 by Nat Robinson, it is the third Baptist church to serve the Parish of Chester, which was formally organized in 1788. The building was designed by Sydney P. Dumaresq, one of Nova Scotia's leading architects of the period, who went on to design numerous other public buildings in the province including Dalhousie University’s dental and medical library in 1938.
Since the church was constructed, it has undergone three major renovations, reflecting the activities and affluence of the parish and congregants. The first renovation was the replacement of the original bell with fourteen chimes, set to the chromatic scale, which required the steeple to be rebuilt. The new steeple was designed by Lindsay Moland and constructed by local company, Chester Seacraft Industries Limited; the chimes were dedicated on October 24, 1954.
The second renovation was the replacement of the large Gothic Revival inspired window on the front elevation. The original pebbled glass window was replaced with the current stained glass window featuring a depiction of the Resurrection designed and made by Alfred L. Wilkinson of Brightlingsea, Essex, England.
The third renovation, and the most substantial, was completed by the descendents of the original designer in 2006. Philip and Sydney Dumaresq designed a large addition to the east elevation of the church and Marc Dumaresq acted as the consulting engineer for the project that added a large extension to the building. The addition includes a Gothic Revival inspired window near the peak of the gable that reflects the Gothic Revival theme present elsewhere on the church.
Chester United Baptist church is valued for its architecture that includes both Gothic and Greek Revival elements, not uncommon in the area. However, the church’s asymmetrical design is somewhat unique; in particular the placement of the main entrance at the corner of the building. It is in the Greek Revival style with square columns supporting a gabled roof with a pediment design.
The church’s steeple, located over the main entrance, projects slightly from the front façade. The steeple starts as a square design that terminates with a small hipped roof. A small cupola, which houses the church’s chimes, is located on top of the hipped roof and it is topped by the original octagonal “Witch’s Cap” built circa 1913. In addition, the front façade boasts a large stained glass window that is reflective of the Gothic Revival style and is also adorned with a second Gothic Revival window and a secondary exit designed as a Gothic Revival arch.
The southern elevation features a four bay façade of Gothic Revival windows arranged symmetrically under a cross gable. In contrast, the façade on either side of the cross gable is designed asymmetrically. Another unique feature of the church is the exceptionally wide eaves on the southern and northern elevations, extending approximately three feet from the building, supported by simple ornamented brackets.
The interior of the church has been constructed to be functional and aesthetically pleasing with the presence of several large wooden doors designed as Gothic Revival arches that can be opened to enlarge rooms within the church. These doors are constructed on a pulley and counter weight system so that they can easily be raised; the doors disappear into the attic. The beams and joists of the church are also unique. They are constructed in a curved fashion that follows an arch underneath the chancel where the congregation assembles to provide added strength to the building.
Source: Municipality of the District of Chester Heritage Property Files.
The character-defining elements that relate to Chester United Baptist Church’s exterior include:
- asymmetrical design of western elevation;
- location of the main entrance at the corner of western and northern elevations;
- extended roof over main entrance with gabled roof featuring a pediment design;
- large stained glass Gothic Revival window on western elevation;
- presence of windows and doors styled as Gothic Revival arches located on the southern elevation;
- wide eaves supported by simple decorative brackets on northern and southern elevations;
- location of the steeple over main entrance;
- cupola design of base of steeple resting on a small hipped roof and topped by an octagonal “Witch’s Cap”;
- Gothic Revival arch window located near peak of gable on eastern elevation.
The character-defining elements that relate to Chester United Church’s interior include:
- beams and joist constructed in a curved manner running underneath chancel;
- two doors designed as Gothic Revival arches that use pulley and counterweight systems to raise vertically into attic;
- interior chancel walls featuring battlement designs that meet at a large decorative louver in ceiling.