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First Baptist Church

110, Sydenham Street, Kingston, City of, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1984/03/01

Three-quarter view of the First Baptist Church.; RHI 2006
First Baptist Church
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1904/01/01 to 1913/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/03

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

First Baptist Church is located at the northwest corner of Johnson and Sydenham Streets in Kingston. This stone church was originally constructed between 1904 and 1913, but was rebuilt in its original style after being gutted by fire in 1966.

The property was designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, by the City of Kingston, on March 1, 1984 (By-law 84-65).

Heritage Value

The First Baptist Church was founded in Kingston in 1840 and the first church building was originally located on Johnson Street, on the site of the present Greek Orthodox Church. The present property at the corner of Johnson and Sydenham Streets was purchased in 1901. Construction began on the church in 1904, beginning with the present church hall at the north end. The building was completed between 1912 and 1913 with the construction of the sanctuary. The Hon. John A. Boyd, Chancellor of Ontario and a prominent Baptist layman, laid the cornerstone on June 2, 1913. Reverend Douglas Laing, who served the congregation from 1889 to 1917, was instrumental in the property purchase and the construction of the church.

A prominent early member of the church was D.D. Calvin, an American from Clayton, New York, who settled on nearby Garden Island and was one of the founders of the shipping and ship-building interests located on the island in the 19th century. Members of the Calvin family remained very active in the church into the second half of the 20th century. Another active member of the congregation during the 20th century was Syl Apps, Olympic pole vaulter in 1936, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and winner of several Stanley Cups.

The building was built of local Kingston limestone in the Romanesque Revival style. The church hall was severely damaged by fire in 1966, with the parsonage and sanctuary saved by fire walls. The church was subsequently rebuilt in its original style. It sits prominently at the northwest corner of Johnson and Sydenham streets, making a significant contribution to both streetscapes.

Sources: City of Kingston Heritage Property File CHE-P18-158-2004: City of Kingston By-law 84-65.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that support the heritage value of the First Baptist Church include its:
- rectangular plan
- pitch-faced stone construction with ashlar trim
- plain course marking the foundation of the building
- square towers projecting slightly from the Johnson Street façade
- deeply recessed entranceways in the towers with round arches decorated by label moulds that spring from the capitals of the polished granite columns
- keystones with top moulds at the crown of the label mould
- repetition of the round arches, label moulds and keystones in most other openings, but with ashlar instead of granite columns
- tall louvered openings in the second storey of the towers
- west tower with brackets, a string course under the cornice and slate pyramidal roof with a finial
- three storey east tower with belfry
- large window in the gable end
- central quatrefoil flanked by smaller ones inside this semicircle
- tall ashlar round-headed groove above the large window
- corbelled arcading following the slope of the gabled roof
- central gabled projection of the east wall, an exact copy of the larger façade gable
- decorative fenestration, most with round heads
- parapet on the north end gable
- square-headed windows
- rectangular wing abutted to the north wall
- contribution to the streetscapes of Johnson Street and Sydenham Street
- prominent location on the corner lot




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1966/01/01 to 1966/01/01

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




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

The City of Kingston City Hall 216 Ontario Street Kingston, ON K7L 2Z3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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