Description of Historic Place
The Christian Baptist church was built in 1874, and is located at 135 Main Street South, in the original downtown core of Newmarket. The church began in 1822, and this structure was the third built for the Christian church denomination.
The Christian Baptist Church has been designated for its historical and architectural significance by the Town of Newmarket By-law number 1989-13.
The first building for the Christian Church was built in 1822. The second church was built in 1856 and was located near the current church on Main Street. The building was later sold and moved to accommodate the Free Masons of Newmarket.
The current Christian Baptist church was constructed in 1874 at the top of Main Street's steep hill. The tower, with its large polygonal steeple, is centered in its Latin cross plan and is one of the oldest operating churches in Newmarket. The building was constructed by Jacob Johnson according to the design of local architect John T. Stokes. The funds to build the church came from the will of T.B. Wakefield, a local residence and member of the church. Wakefield had left conditions under which the church must be built. These conditions included the following:
The church must be built three years after his death.
The church should have a tower.
The church must have a bell that costs no less than five hundred dollars.
A tablet stone would be placed in the tower, setting forth that the tower and bell were erected as memorials to T.B. Wakefield.
The corner stone was laid by the Earl of Dufferin, Governor General of Canada, at a ceremony on July 25, 1874 at which the “Maple Leaf Forever” was first sung in public. It was believed that this song would become Canada's national anthem.
The Christian Baptist Church is a finely embellished example of High Victorian Gothic revival style. The building was originally constructed of polychromatic brick (subsequently covered in stucco, in circa 1900) and rests on a stone plinth. The building follows the traditional Latin cross plan and features a steeply pitched gable roof. The principal façade features the projecting tower centered on the façade and rises to a polygonal steeple. The entrance features two large wood doors, which are framed with mock columns. Above the doors are three decorative stained glass windows that are protected by a drip mould. The entrance is framed with a pointed stone arch.
The form of the entrance is repeated in the triple gable opening over the entrance. The central section is filled by a memorial stone tablet, while the other two feature stained glass windows. Immediately to the north of the entrance there is a turret that grants access to the tower. The tower continues upward and steps inward then continues to four projecting gables, one on each side of the tower. These gables were originally constructed to house the town clock, but due to the cost, they were never installed. The tower was completed with a decorative pointed octagon roof.
The church features three bays, which are divided by mock buttresses, on the north and south elevations. Each bay contains various window shapes throughout including pointed arches, lancet ribbon, rose, circular, quatrefoil, and segmented. The majority of the windows are filled with stained glass. Three stained glass windows were relocated from the east elevation to the South projecting gable, in 1911, to accommodate the installation of the church's first pipe organ.
Several elements including decorative brick work, minarets and finals, brackets, and stained glass windows, are now missing or rearranged, but are documented in historical photographs. The church, with its prominent location and high spire, remains a dominant landmark on the Newmarket skyline.
Sources: Town of Newmarket heritage designation By-law 1989-13, January 9, 1989; Heritage Newmarket file: 135 Main Street South.
Character defining elements which illustrate the heritage value of the Christian Baptist Church include its:
- continuous function as a religious structure in downtown Newmarket
- the corner stone of the church laid by the Earl of Dufferin, Governor General of Canada
- dominance on the skyline making it a landmark in Newmarket
- fine embellishments reflecting the High Victorian Gothic revival style
- centered high steeple
- finely detailed entrance
- varying fenestration
- variety of stained glass windows
- mock buttresses
- traditional Latin cross floor plan