Description of Historic Place
Started in 1821 and completed in 1824, the nationally-recognized Greenock Presbyterian Church is a large wooden British Palladian Revival style church with a handsome vestibule crowned by a large eloquent steeple in front of a plain symmetrical front-gabled Colonial style meeting house. The church is located on Montague Street in the Town of St. Andrews.
The Greenock Presbyterian Church is designated a Local Historic Place for its interior and exterior architecture, for its connection with early religious struggles in St. Andrews and for its connection with Christopher Scott and the country of Scotland. Nationally, it is recognized for its interior and exterior components and for marking the growth of Presbyterianism and the Kirk of Scotland in New Brunswick.
The Greenock Presbyterian Church is recognized as a good example of British Palladian architecture. The interior of the church is a key feature to the building. An upper balcony occupies two sides of the church with the southwest end being supported by ten handsome bird’s eye maple pillars. The most striking part of the interior is the pulpit which is a marvel of beauty and excellence. The top of the pulpit is level with the balcony floor. The pulpit is composed of mahogany and bird’s eye maple, the mahogany having been brought from Honduras specifically for the construction of the pulpit. Gordon Gilchrist was in charge of the work on the pulpit and no nails or hardware were used. The cost of the pulpit was 500 pounds, far more than the cost of any of the houses in the town at the time, and completion took two skilled workmen two years to construct. Benevolent Christopher Scott obtained the design from his home town of Greenock, Scotland.
The main structure of the church is in the style of a large Colonial meeting house, while the vestibule and tower are British Palladian in style. An interesting element on the exterior of the tower is a carved representation of an oak tree in full leaf, beneath which is inscribed in large letters “GREENOCK CHURCH – FINISHED JUNE 1824”. Greenock, being Christopher Scott’s hometown, is a slight modification of “Green Oak”. The church has a large handsome entranceway with heavy doors, an arched transom window flanked by Corinthian columns and is crowned by a pediment. Above the entrance is a beautiful Palladian window with four fluted Corinthian columns. This level is crowned by a clock and a steeple.
The Greenock Presbyterian Church is also recognized for its association with the early religious struggles in St. Andrews and for its connection with Christopher Scott and the Country of Scotland. From the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 until 1820, the Protestant Church was the only church in St. Andrews. So beloved was Rev. Samuel Andrews that all denominations were content to listen to his preaching. When the beloved reverend passed away in 1817, his replacement was far less favourable. Catholics, Presbyterians and other denominations looked toward forming their own denominations. Rev. John Cassilis of Scotland arrived in St. Andrews in 1818 and inspired in his congregation a determination to have a church of their own. In 1821, when a substantial sum of money was raised, a contract was given to Donald D. Morrison to build the church. The funds became exhausted and the church stood unfinished until November 1822.
Oral tradition states that in the fall of 1822, Christopher Scott, a wealthy St. Andrews resident who had hailed from Scotland, overheard rude remarks concerning the inability of the Presbyterians to afford a church of their own. With individual cost and without regard to expense, he finished the church with his own taste. When completed it was one of the most beautiful and costly church buildings in the province.
Source: Charlotte County Archives, Old Gaol, St. Andrews, NB
The character defining elements of the Greenock Presbyterian Church include:
- massing and symmetry of main meeting house structure;
- large 12-over-12 wood-framed windows;
- exposed rock foundation;
- wood cladding;
- massing and placement of the vestibule, the belfry and the clock tower;
- large heavy paired wooden doors;
- fluted Doric columns flanking the doors;
- fanlight transom above doors;
- large pediment above the entry with modillions under the cornice;
- Palladian window with four fluted Doric columns and fluted brackets;
- pediment roof of the vestibule with elliptical window in tympanum;
- base of the tower with oak tree, construction date and name of church displayed between quoins;
- clock, belfry, and steeple atop the base of tower.
- two-sided balcony;
- woodwork of mahogany and bird’s eye maple;
- bird’s eye maple columns;
- two-tier mahogany pulpit with bird’s eye maple panels.