Description of Historic Place
66 Victoria Street East, also known as the First Baptist Church, is a large, two-and-a-half storey red sandstone church standing on the north side of Amherst, Nova Scotia’s main street in the heart of its commercial district. Built in 1895, it shares the streetscape with other important stone buildings erected near the turn of the twentieth century creating a unique Maritime streetscape. The building and property are included in the municipal designation.
66 Victoria Street East is valued as a good example of the Queen Anne Revival style. The church is also valued because of its association with Amherst’s craftsmen and artisans, with Amherst’s architectural history, and because it is part of an important streetscape.
Architectural Value: The church's core architectural style is Queen Anne Revival, however there are a number of Gothic Revival and Neo-classical elements skillfully blended in. The Queen Anne elements are its asymmetry, the two high curved turreted towers, and the variety of shapes and sizes of its many windows. High gables, steeply pitched roofs and a variety of roof shapes make the tall, banded towers all the more prominent, and their height is accentuated by their straight tall windows. All the church’s main doorways and many of its windows have the distinct slightly-pointed arch of the Gothic Revival style. The heavy large-scale massing, the rough-cut sandstone walls, and the buttresses that skirt the structure contribute to the over all weight and monumental character of the church.
Historical Value: The building was designed by well-known architect Harry H. Mott, and was built by Rhodes, Curry Co., a prominent business in the economic and architectural history of Amherst and Nova Scotia during this era. Rhodes, Curry Co. had a reputation for quality of workmanship and craftsmanship, and was instrumental in the growth and development of late nineteenth-century Amherst. The firm was also the contractor and builder of a number of grand homes and businesses in Amherst and through out Nova Scotia. The red sandstone used for the church was from the Amherst Red Stone Quarry that operated between 1889 and 1914. Stone from this quarry was used for buildings through out the Maritimes and Ontario because of its rich red colour and because it was easily carved.
During this time of industrial, commercial and economic expansion, Amherst was known as “Busy Amherst.” The church was built in 1895 to accommodate the growing population of Amherst, and is the third Baptist Church to sit on this site. Many of Amherst’s influential citizens were members of the congregation, but of particular note is Sir Charles Tupper, who was one of the Fathers of Confederation and who became Prime Minister of Canada. Tupper donated a stained glass window in memory of his father who had been a minister in the previous building.
Source: “Heritage Properties Amherst, 66 Victoria East” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of 66 Victoria Street East include:
- location in downtown Amherst among buildings of similar age and construction materials;
- original size and massing;
- wooden front door;
- stained glass windows, including one dedicated to Rev. Tupper;
- construction of local red sandstone.
Character-defining Queen Anne Revival elements of 66 Victoria East include:
- asymmetrical shape with recessed and extended portions;
- turreted towers;
- variety of window shapes and sizes.
Character-defining Gothic Revival elements of 66 Victoria East include:
- pointed arches over windows and doorways;
Character-defining Neo-Classical elements of 66 Victoria East include:
- red granite engaged columns with ornate sandstone capitals flanking entrances.