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Central United Church

160, Spring Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/10/08

Looking north-east from Albert Street; City of Sault Ste. Marie
Central United Church, 2004
Looking north-east from Albert Street; City of Sault Ste. Marie
Central United Church, 2004
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Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1900/01/01 to 1911/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Central United Church, built in stages between 1900 and 1911, is a powerfully modeled building constructed of local red sandstone. Standing on the northwest corner of Spring and Albert Streets in Sault Ste. Marie, the church dominates the streetscape through its size and the lack of set-back.

Central United Church has been recognized for its heritage value by the City of Sault Ste. Marie, By-law 85-267.

Heritage Value

Central United Church is of heritage value as a link to the early Methodist community in Sault Ste. Marie, because of its association with prominent Sault Ste. Marie citizens at the time of its construction. In addition it is a unique example of ecclesiastical architecture in Sault Ste. Marie, influenced by non-conformist Methodist principles and the availability of local materials.

The Church was erected between 1900 and 1911 by Sault Ste. Marie's Methodist community, a community originally established in the mid-19th century by George M. McDougall, a pioneer Methodist missionary.

Central United is also associated with other prominent individuals, including Francis H. Clergue, a prominent local industrialist who donated land to the congregation. Henry Simpson, the original architect for the project, is noted for having designed a variety of residential, commercial and institutional buildings in Sault Ste. Marie and throughout Ontario in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Constructed primarily of roughly squared local red sandstone, obtained from ongoing canal excavations, the church's design was guided by nonconformist Methodist principles. Its main element is the octagonal sanctuary, a grand, vaulted space with a steeply pitched roof completed in 1903 and positioned in the southwest corner of the site, which is in sharp contrast to more common cruciform designs.

The outward appearance of Central United Church does not support any one particular architectural style. It may be that the succession of building stages together with the strong design input of the building committee severely modified Henry Simpson's original concepts. Nevertheless its massive appearance, conveying strength and endurance dominates the streetscape and reflects the original request that the architect create a church with a style "indicative of Methodism'.

Sources: Sault Ste. Marie Designation By-law 85-267; Central United Church Block Designation Report.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements of Central United Church that reflect the influence of Methodism include:
- its dominant position on a corner lot
- its massive appearance and size
- its massive, square, four-storey bell tower
- its octagonal sanctuary with steeply pitched roof
- its arched and rectangular windows of varying sizes, filled with diamond-paned leaded glass
- its tall, square chimney
- its ornate battlements
- its turrets and buttresses

Key elements of Central United Church that reflect the use of local materials include:
- its sandstone walls, tower and chimney, constructed of roughly squared sandstone, coursed in a rubble pattern




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Philosophy and Spirituality

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship


Architect / Designer

Henry Simpson



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Community Services Department, Recreation and Culture Division, City of Sault Ste. Marie

Cross-Reference to Collection

Sault Ste. Marie Museum; Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Archives

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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