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First United Church

711 Prince Street, Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/10/01

First United Church, front elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, N.S. Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Front elevation
First United Church, western elevation, church hall, 2004; Heritage Division, N.S. Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Church hall
First United Church, main door detail, 2004; Heritage Division, N.S. Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Door detail

Other Name(s)

First United Church
711 Prince Street
First Presbyterian Church

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/12/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

First United Church is a large Georgian Revival brick structure located at 711 Prince Street in the historic urban core of Truro, NS. The church features large Palladian windows and a 143-foot high brick and stone spire. The church, a separate church hall, and the surrounding property are all included in the heritage designation.

Heritage Value

Spiritual and Religious Value

First United Church, originally First Presbyterian Church, is valued as the principal place of worship for a congregation whose roots trace back to the founding of Truro. Spiritual descendants, and in many cases literal descendants, of the original Presbyterian settlers who arrived in 1760-1761, the congregation has played a significant role in the spiritual and religious life of Truro for nearly 250 years.

Historic Value

The site for this church was acquired in 1851 by the congregation who had outgrown its 1766 building within the precincts of Robie Street Cemetery and wished to move closer to the main population of Truro. The present building was constructed in 1916 on the site of a previous building that had been built in 1854 and destroyed by fire in 1913. The detached church hall was constructed in 1951. When the Presbyterian Church of Canada joined with the Methodist and Congregationalist denominations in the United Church Union of 1925, First Presbyterian Church was renamed First United Church.

Architectural Value

First United Church is a valued Truro landmark, dominating the town’s skyline and the many historic buildings that surround it. Architects Samuel G. Curry and William F. Sparling of Toronto designed the building, which was built by local contractors Frank McCurdy and the Wilson Construction Co. The massing of the church, its formal orientation toward the main street, its tall steeple and spacious front lawn all characterize the landmark nature of the building. The large church hall at the rear was designed by architect J.K. Darby in a complementary style.

Source: Planning Department, Town of Truro, file 10MNS0022

Character-Defining Elements

Character-Defining Elements of the First United Church consist of:

- all original or historic building elements, including: basic Georgian Revival rectangular form and massing with pedimented gable ends; wide moulded cornices decorated with modillions; belt courses and quoins; broken neo-classical pediment supported by Ionic pillars outlining the front entrance; neo-Classical temple bell-tower in brick and stone atop a projecting square central tower, and supporting a hexagonal spire; weather-vane on the spire, and a freestone plaque on the tower with incised lettering “First Presbyterian Church”; a pair of rectangular chimneys at the rear of the main church structure; two-storey rear extension, with a lower hip roof and cross gable;
- all original or historic window and door elements, including: sashed Palladian-style windows with brick pillars, stone sills and keystone arches; ocular windows in the tower and spire; double-doored front entrance with fanlight above;
- all original or historic building materials, including: foundation of concrete, granite and freestone courses; solid brick walls; cut freestone trim elements.

Character-Defining elements of the First United Church hall consist of:

- all original or historic building elements, including: basic form and massing; flush gabled wings at the south end and northwest corner, with an ocular vent in each gable; small gabled ventilation dormers; pedimented projecting porches on the southeast corner and western side;
- all original or historic window and door elements, including; large nine-light windows along the length of the hall with heavy muntins; glass-block basement and lower window courses; sashed windows in the wings;
- all original or historic building materials, including: solid brick walls; single soldier course at the four-foot level; cut freestone lintels and sills emulating belt courses.

Character-Defining elements of the entire site consist of:

- formal placement of the church facing Prince Street;
- raised pedestal terrace with wide stairways leading toward the church entrances;
- walkways leading to the church and around the front and side;
- large lawn to the front and sides, with mature trees and shrubbery.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

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

Curry and Spalding


Frank McCurdy

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Planning Department, Town of Truro, PO Box 427, Truro, NS B2N 5C5; file 10MNS0022

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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