Saint James Presbyterian Church
St. James Textile Museum
Musée du textile St. James
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Saint James Presbyterian Church, built in 1884, is a white wood-framed Carpenter Gothic church with a prominent square corner tower. It is located on Main Street in Dorchester.
Saint James Presbyterian Church was designated a Local Historic Place for its association with Presbyterianism, for its architecture and for its use as a textile museum.
Saint James Presbyterian Church is recognized for its association with Presbyterianism. The roots of the Presbyterian Church in Canada are Scottish, the mother Church being the Church of Scotland. In Canada, Presbyterian heritage also includes the work and witness of Protestant French Huguenot settlers who came to Canada in the 1600’s. The lasting influence of this religion in the region was embodied in the building of Saint James Presbyterian Church in Dorchester.
Saint James Presbyterian Church is also recognized for its architecture. Built in 1884, Saint James Presbyterian Church is a fine example of an Atlantic Canadian Carpenter Gothic religious building. Gothic Revival architecture was dominant in Canadian public buildings throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. The Carpenter Gothic style became common in North America and other places in the late nineteenth century in the architecture of houses and small churches. These structures adapted Gothic elements such as pointed arches, steep gables and towers to traditional American light wood-frame construction. The invention of the scroll saw and mass-produced wood mouldings allowed a few of these structures to mimic the florid fenestration of the High Gothic. This is evident in this building through such details as the decorative bargeboard under the eaves and the elaborate window tracery.
Saint James Presbyterian Church is also recognized for its use as a textile museum. This building was granted to the Westmorland Historical Society in 1970 and it opened as museum in 1984. This graceful wooden structure is home to turn-of-the-20th-century blacksmith's tools, a working foot lathe and other carpenters' tools, as well as unique hand tools that farmers once used to make hay and thrash wheat. Known as the Beachkirk Collection, the museum also features an insightful look into the making of textiles in the late 1800's. Exhibits cover all the process and equipment used in making fabrics, from cutting the flax to producing the linen, and from shearing the sheep to carding, spinning and weaving the wool on antique looms.
Source: Dorchester Village Hall, Local Historic Places file #8
The character-defining elements of Saint James Presbyterian Church include:
- rectangular one-and-a-half storey massing;
- wood-frame construction;
- large square belfry tower with pyramidal roof located on the corner of the front façade and containing the main entrance;
- steeply-pitched front-facing gable roof;
- hood moulding over doors and windows;
- pointed arch Gothic windows;
- stained glass windows;
- museum collection related to the history of the textile industry in the area.
Local Governments (NB)
Local Historic Places Program
Municipal Register of Local Historic Places
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Technology and Engineering
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Village of Dorchester, 4984 Main Street, Dorchester, NB, E4K 2Z1, Local Historic Places file # 8
Cross-Reference to Collection