Description of Historic Place
The building at 47 Water Street, formerly known as the First Delta Baptist Church, is situated at Water and Warnock Streets in the City of Cambridge. The one-storey brick building was designed in a mixture of Romanesque and Italianate styles by architect Thomas Boughton and was constructed in 1887. Currently the property is used for theatrical productions and is called Cambridge Arts Theatre.
The exterior of the building is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1984). The property is designated by the City of Cambridge under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
Located on Water Street, the First Delta Baptist Church faces the Grand River and contributes to the street and viewscape of this part of Water Street. Surrounded by modern buildings on either side, the church stands as a representation of an important surviving piece of 19th century architecture in downtown Cambridge. The location of the church at such a close proximity to the river is unusual in Ontario. The building is in the 'Heritage Conservation Recognition Area', which seeks to recognize the value of riverbank properties, with or without heritage buildings and river views.
The First Delta Baptist Church is significant for its association with Baptists in the Town of Galt (amalgamated with Preston and Hespeler, as the City of Cambridge, in 1973) and religious diversity in Waterloo County. The first Baptist congregation organized in Galt, in 1851, and from this grew the congregation that built the First Delta Baptist Church, in 1887. The development of this congregation reflects the struggles of establishing the Baptist church in Ontario. After unsuccessfully trying to form the Canada Baptist Union in 1855, the formation of a union was attempted again in the 1880s. In 1889 the Union was complete and the Baptist church would have a phase of maturation and growth. In Waterloo County diverse groups of settlers meant a diversity of religious denominations. Religious beliefs often followed cultural lines, with German Lutherans dominating, an anomaly in Ontario. However, the Baptists, composed largely of Germans, Scots and the English, were a religious minority. Although they did not have a pastor, regular services were held in a house. In 1872, the Baptist congregation began holding services in the Old Primitive Methodist Church on Dickson Street, in Galt. In 1876, Mr. Robert Scott donated some land where the First Delta Baptist Church would eventually be built, facing the Grand River.
Currently, the property is used for theatrical productions and is called Cambridge Arts Theatre. It was deconsecrated, in 1980, and all religious objects were removed and sold by the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec in 1982. The building was sold to the City of Cambridge for use as a theatre.
The First Delta Baptist Church was designed in the Romanesque and Italianate architectural styles. Designed by Thomas Boughton of Brantford, First Delta Baptist Church is rectangular in plan, with a front gable roof and polychromatic brick-work. The otherwise symmetrical façade on Water Street is broken by a hip roofed bell tower. The tower, front and side façades, are constructed of buff brick with decorative red-brick incorporated into the banding and the voussoirs. Over the many round-headed windows are polychromatic red and white-brick arches. Brick corbelling at the eaves is also polychromatic, and the façade and sides of the church have shallow buttresses. Buttresses, capped with finials as modest embellishments, define the corners of the church. The foundation is of rough cut limestone. The gabled façade has a central porch entrance (now bricked over) above which is a grouping of three round-headed stained-glass windows. The central porch entrance was added sometime shortly after the church's construction, replacing two entrances on the south and north sides of the façade, thereby shortening the grouping of three round-headed windows. Under the gable is a large bulls-eye window with scalloped louvers, polychromatic brick surround and two small red-brick roundels.
Source: OHT Easement Files.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the First Delta Baptist Church include its:
- mixed Italianate and Romanesque architectural features
- polychromatic brick work
- hip-roofed bell tower
- red-brick banding
- polychromatic voussoirs
- round-headed windows
- corbelling around the eaves
- shallow buttresses on the façade
- corner buttresses
- corner and roof-peak finials
- limestone foundations visible above grade
- bulls-eye window with scalloped louvers
- polychromatic brick roundels
- proximity to the Grand River
- proximity and relationship to other historic buildings in the 'Heritage Conservation Recognition Area' of Cambridge