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Wesley United Church

2280 Highway 3, Barrington Head, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/08/27

Rear elevation, Wesley United Church, Barrington Head, NS, 2008.; Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia 2008
Rear Elevation
Side elevation, Wesley United Church, Barrington Head, NS, 2008.; Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia 2008
Side Elevation
Front elevation, Wesley United Church, Barrington Head, NS, 2008.; Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia 2008
Front Elevation

Other Name(s)

Wesley United Church
Wesley United Church and Cemetery

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1865/01/01 to 1866/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

A large, white ecclesiastical building located on the western side of Highway 3, Barrington Head, Nova Scotia, the Wesley United Church is a somewhat imposing building in the small community. The front elevation with a large central tower faces Barrington Bay. The Municipality of the District of Barrington registered the church and cemetery on August 27, 1986.

Heritage Value

The Wesley United Church is valued for its association with its Methodist history, the history of the community and for its dominating form which has made it a local landmark.

The property on which the Wesley United Church is located was seeded to the Methodist Church Trustees in 1809 by merchant William Donaldson. Donaldson was a Scottish Loyalist who left his estate in Virginia before coming first to Shelburne and then on to Barrington where he purchased Lot #40 in the First Division. A log chapel was constructed on this property in 1816. The chapel was enlarged in 1840 and was replaced by the current building in 1866.

Construction on the new church began in 1865. Many local artisans worked on the church including: Joshua Smith, foundation; Philip Crowell, split granite for foundation; Joshua Christie and Joshua Watt, framing and boarding; Israel Doane and Isaac Goodwin, finishing and pews; Lendal Doane, plastering; Benjamin Doane and Samuel Pinkham, painting; and Charles W. Panter, architect. The church was built in a somewhat unusual manner for the period. The vestry was not built at the rear or side of the church, but a full basement storey was constructed for the vestry and other conveniences. In 1878 oil lamps were installed in the church, allowing for evening use.

The steeple was originally thirty-two metres in height. It was constructed inside the tower and hoisted into place by block and tackle. The steeple was damaged after a severe gale in 1900 and was left resting at a 45 degree angle towards the main road. The spire was suspended and held only by strong iron rods in its frame. It was shortened by removing the greater part of the bell section by William J. Smith, a local carpenter. The crenellated parapet is in the style of medieval church towers seen in Europe, giving the church an Italianate flare, making the church unique in the area. In 1957, the steeple was altered, leaving a tower and belfry as it is today. The original bell came from London, England. It was damaged in circa 1922 and was replaced by the present bell that was purchased in 1923 from Menelly Bell Company in Troy N.Y. with monies raised by a Bell Society organized by Professor Arnold Doane.

Today the Wesley United Church continues to hold regular services and has an active congregation.

Source: Municipality of the District of Barrington, Municipal Heritage Files, Wesley United Church

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Wesley United Church include:

- two-storey wood frame construction;
- granite foundation;
- gable roof on main church and apse;
- first storey contains church hall, second storey is main church;
- central tower with crenellation on parapet supported by entrance portico;
- arched louvered vent in tower with overhang;
- hipped gable roof on portico;
- one dormer window in roof of each side of portico;
- vergeboard in peak over main entrance;
- covered side entrance with overhang supported by decorative brackets;
- prominent cornerboards;
- paired bracketed eaves;
- cornice dividing two storeys;
- rounded lancet windows on each side of the church as well as in belfry;
- stairs on each side of foyer leading to church;
- cemetery to rear of church;
- all original interior elements including: wainscoting, pews, choir loft and pulpit.



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
Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer

Panter, Charles W.



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Municipality of Barrington P.O. BOx 100 Barrington NS B0W 1E0 Cape Sable Historical Society P.O. Box 67 Barrington NS B0W 1E0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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