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Sackville United Church

 

Sackville United Church, 112 Main St., Sackville, NB – DECK STACKED AGAINST YET ANOTHER FORMER CHURCH BUILDING

UPDATE - September 2015: Sackville United Church has been demolished.

Photo by Jean Cameron

Why it matters

A landmark in the heart of Sackville’s downtown since 1875, the impressive 40-metre spire of the former Sackville United Church is the most recognized feature of the skyline. In 1898, it was expanded to the configuration of a Greek cross by acclaimed New Brunswick architect H.H. Mott. The impressive interior craftsmanship is attributed to highly skilled wooden-sailing-ship builders, and the set of magnificent 4-metre stained-glass rose windows to renowned Montreal artisans John Spence and Sons. The building also houses an original 116-pipe Casavant organ (installed in 1927) toned for the excellent acoustic qualities of the sanctuary, which is known as one of the best concert halls in the Maritimes.

A marker recognizing the historic significance of the church was put in place by the Town of Sackville in 1999. The church was also included in a Municipal Heritage Conservation Area created in 2010.

Photo by SPLASH (Sackville People Leading Action to Save Heritage).

Why it’s endangered

Caught up in a tsunami of sweeping change facing ecclesiastical real-estate across the country, the building is a victim of a shrinking congregation unable to afford ongoing maintenance costs, weak heritage protection, and market forces (the building was sold to a private developer in 2013 who has plans for a housing development).

In the absence of an adaptive use option that met his financial expectations, the owner applied to the Sackville Heritage Board (SHB) for a demolition permit in August 2014. In March 2015, the SHB reluctantly voted 4 to 1 in favour of issuing the demolition permit on condition that the owner submit a salvage plan to help retain some of the historically significant elements, including a set of the stained glass windows.  

Where things stand

A local group of citizens named SPLASH (Sackville People Leading Action to Save Heritage) have worked tirelessly to save the building, raising close to $100,000. They have paid to heat the interior, and have set out buckets to catch water dripping from a leaking roof.  The group has also appealed the demolition permit to the Assessment and Planning Appeal Board of New Brunswick. 

UPDATE: In August, the Assessment and Planning Appeal Board of New Brunswick denied the appeal. On September 8, 2015, workers began to demolish the historic church. The church's pipe organ along with floor boards and small stained glass windows were removed prior to demolition, however the striking large stained glass windows were destroyed.