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First Baptist Church

969 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2005/11/01

Exterior view of the First Baptist Church; City of Vancouver, 2007
Oblique view from northeast
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/01/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The First Baptist Church is built in the Gothic Revival style and is located at the corner of Burrard and Nelson Streets in the downtown of Vancouver. Two storeys in height, the building’s main facade faces onto Nelson Street and has a landmark belfry at the corner; a three-storey wing faces Burrard Street.

Heritage Value

The First Baptist Church is valued for its architecture and landmark status among the grouping of important heritage buildings on Burrard Street. The collection of heritage buildings, including the Church, line Burrard Street which is one of the City’s ceremonial streets, and one of the busiest traffic arteries in the downtown. Set close to the street it contributes to the heritage character of Burrard Street and matches the setback, massing and scale of other heritage buildings in the area, including the Dal Grauer Substation, the B.C. Electric Building, The Young Men's Christian Association, St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church and St. Paul’s Hospital. The building is also valued as one of Vancouver’s oldest churches and one of the oldest buildings in the area.

Completed in 1911, the Gothic Revival styling is significant for its rarity and fine detailing. Paired with the adjacent St. Andrews-Wesley Church, the building forms part of a distinctive grouping of religious architecture immediately recognizable from the street. Built by Toronto architects Burke, Horwood and White, they are noted for designing the Hudson’s Bay buildings in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary, Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, and several important commissions in Toronto. Additionally, the building is particularly noted for its interior, built 20 years after the completion of the building due to a fire that destroyed the interior and roof, but left the masonry structure intact. Although stylistically different from the exterior, the interior is an excellent example of Arts and Crafts detailing in an ecclesiastical space, and is regarded as one of the finest church interiors in the city.

The church is also a strong symbol of the longevity and history of the Baptist Church in Vancouver, and remains valued by its congregation as a welcoming place of worship in the busy downtown core. As the main Baptist Church in the city, its stone walls and fine interior create a sanctuary of calm and solemnity amongst its formal interior layout.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the First Baptist Church’s Gothic Revival architectural design include:
- its ecclesiastical form set close to the street, two-storey scale and massing, similar to other heritage properties in the area
- L-shaped plan
- belfry tower
- masonry construction with granite cladding
- fenestration with religious inspiration, including grouped and pointed arch lancet windows
- stained glass windows with white glass cross in central lancet window in Nelson Street facade
- inscribed corner stone
- fenced corner courtyard facing both Nelson and Burrard Streets
- facades facing onto both Nelson and Burrard Streets

Key elements that define the First Baptist Church’s heritage interior include:
- narthex with side stairs up to balcony and dividing screen to nave with divided lights
- repetitive bays divided by structural columns topped by ionic capitals with pointed arches facing into nave
- open nave with two aisles between pews on main level
- side aisles
- coffered segmented-arch ceiling with rosettes between coffers
- decorated panels in ceiling coffers
- corbelling where ceiling meets columns
- large inset arch and organ casing in oak, with screen and metal organ pipes behind altar
- choir pews at altar
- U-shaped balcony
- inset and carved ornamental panels in railings on balcony
- oak pews and wood detailing
- original pendant lamps hanging at regular intervals from boxed beams in ceiling
- original carillon and belfry mechanism

Key elements that define the location of the First Baptist Church include:
- its prominent corner location on Burrard Street, a busy traffic artery and ceremonial street
- its proximity to a number of other heritage properties of similar scale and massing on Burrard Street



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.593

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship


Architect / Designer

Burke, Horwood and White



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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