Praying for seven million miracles – Winnipeg Free Press

A historic church that has stood sentinel to changes in downtown Winnipeg for 140 years could face the wrecking ball.

The congregation of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, designated as a National Historic Site of Canada and a protected historic building in Winnipeg, has requested permission from the Bishop of Rupert’s Land to put the property up for sale.

A geological study conducted in 1989 found that the building is not structurally sound and the congregation has been told that the current cost to fix it is $7 million.

Faced with that reality, even local history advocates agree that the church, at 256 Smith St., across from the Millennium Library, will need its own miracle to stay standing.

BROOK JONES / FREE PRESS Holy Trinity Church at 256 Smith St. in Winnipeg was built in 1883-84 as a long stone structure in a cruciform shape.

BROOK JONES / FREE PRESS

Holy Trinity Church at 256 Smith St. in Winnipeg was built in 1883-84 as a long stone structure in a cruciform shape.

“I think in the not-too-distant future there will be something else on that site,” Gordon Goldsborough, senior researcher at the Manitoba Historical Society, said Friday.

“It will hurt them to see it demolished, but there is no bottomless pit of money to save old buildings. Unless there is a white knight who is willing to invest a lot of money in this, I don’t see a good ending here.”

“It will hurt them to see it demolished, but there is no bottomless pit of money to save old buildings.”–Gordon Goldsborough

The bishop, Rt. Rev. Geoff Woodcroft, was at an out-of-province meeting and could not be reached for comment.

Sandra Bender, the church’s popular director, said the congregation does not have $7.2 million to fix up the ornate structure, which a City of Winnipeg report calls “one of Canada’s finest examples of a 19th-century Gothic Revival style.” . Limestone from Stony Mountain and Selkirk was used in its construction, as well as Ohio limestone for many exterior trim.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILE Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a historic Gothic-style church, celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILE

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a historic Gothic-style church, celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

“The main problem is that the building was not built with a foundation,” Bender said. “We don’t have foundation problems, we don’t have a foundation.

“It is a miracle that our church has lasted as long as it has because other churches in Toronto built the same way no longer exist.”

Bender said it’s especially poignant because the church will open its doors Saturday for the annual Doors Open event. (The church will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

“The building is now in a state where, in the next six months to three years, it could be determined to be unsafe and condemned,” he said. “This could be our last Open Door.”

A report given to the congregation at the church’s annual meeting earlier this year said that “since the late 1980s, this parish has operated with the knowledge that major repairs would be necessary to build a foundation beneath the church.” history to avoid a collapse.

“The building is now in a state where in the next six months to three years it could be determined to be unsafe and condemned. “This could be our last Open Door.”–Sandra Bender

“It is still unclear when exactly that collapse will occur, but signs of structural problems continue to present themselves with increasing urgency.”

The report says the church has looked for years for a partner to plan the repairs and has tried to see if it could do them itself, but “we have concluded that we do not have the capacity as a parish to do so.”

A separate report from the parish says the church, which was designed to seat 800 people, has been affected by a decline in membership, from 100 to 200 people. Only between 30 and 60 people, on average, attend Sunday worship.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILE Holy Trinity Anglican Church was designed by architect Charles H. Wheeler, who came from Great Britain in 1882.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILE

Holy Trinity Anglican Church was designed by architect Charles H. Wheeler, who arrived from Great Britain in 1882.

After income and expenses, the church had a surplus of $11,560 last year.

Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said the church has been neglected and necessary repairs have not been made.

“If you leave it like that for years, it becomes a major repair with a big price tag,” Tugwell said. “The longer you leave it, the more expensive it will be to fix.

“They will try to sell it, but in the end they will tear it down. “This is prime real estate for development.”

Tugwell said the problem is not unique to Holy Trinity.

“Many of these churches have let necessary major repairs drag on too long,” he said. “This should have been done a long, long time ago. “They should have sold it before it became too cost-prohibitive for anyone else to do.”

Jason Schreyer, the councilman who chairs the city government’s historic buildings committee, said the only time he was in the church was a decade ago.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Schreyer said. “Once you’re in, you won’t forget it.”

BROOK JONES / FREE PRESS The church will open its doors on Saturday for the annual Doors Open event.

BROOK JONES / FREE PRESS

The church will open its doors on Saturday for the annual Open Doors event.

“It’s an incredible little enclave of old-school architecture. “It’s built around it, but you have this moving haven with a beautiful church and space.”

While the church is currently protected by the city, Schreyer said the city council could always hear the case to remove the designation.

The church replaced an original one the congregation had grown on Portage Avenue.

A report to the city committee said that when a church official announced that he had purchased land for a new church between Smith and Donald streets, on Graham Avenue, some in the congregation said: “Why did you go so far? ?”

BROOK JONES / FREE PRESS The parish of Holy Trinity Church has applied to the Diocese of Rupert's Land for permission to sell the church.

BROOK JONES / FREE PRESS

The parish of Holy Trinity Church has applied to the Diocese of Rupert’s Land for permission to sell the church.

The church, which held its first service on July 25, 1884, was soon surrounded by the thriving center of the growing city.

“One of the most spectacular features is the hammerbeam roof, a Gothic-inspired system of interior beams used to replace the columns supporting the roof,” the report says.

It was designed by architect Charles H. Wheeler, who arrived from Great Britain in 1882, and designed numerous houses, offices, churches and warehouses. Another of his works is the Sir Hugh John Macdonald House, now known as the Dalnavert Museum, at 61 Carlton St.

The city’s historic designation for the church, implemented in 2008, protects both its exterior and interior elements.

Exterior elements include pointed arch windows, timber details on the bell tower at the south-west corner, spire at the south-east corner and dormers on the north and south roof slopes, and the rough-hewn and smooth stone superstructure has elaborate details including gothic motifs. , towers, buttresses and high crosses.

Inside, protected features include the imposing clapboard and hammerbeam ceiling and a carriage ceiling in the chancel, as well as 1920s lighting, oak pulpit, stained glass and marble and stone columns.

[email protected]

The Free Press is committed to covering faith in Manitoba. If you appreciate that coverage, help us make more! Your contribution of $10, $25 or more will allow us to deepen our reporting on faith in the province. Thank you!

BECOME A SUPPORTER OF FAITH JOURNALISM

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the Winnipeg Free Press’s most versatile reporters. Whether covering town hall, courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 questions (who, what, when, where, and why) but to do so in a way that is interesting and accessible to readers. .

Our newsroom depends on a growing audience of readers to drive our journalism. If you are not a paid reader, please consider subscribing.

Our newsroom depends on its audience of readers to drive our journalism. Thanks for your support.