By Collin Gallant on January 23, 2019.
An historic church in Medicine Hat has been designated as a municipal historical resource, opening up renovation projects to potential provincial grants as a top-down maintenance program continues.
The process of designating Fifth Avenue Memorial United Church was finalized Monday when council approved all three readings of the related bylaw. It makes the towering structure the latest in a spate of buildings to earn the designation over the past several years.
The exterior of the house of worship that was built in 1913, rebuilt in 1931, then expanded in 1957, is a good example of early 20th century style and construction, according to an earlier report into its significance. Its gabled roof, “massive Gothic-ogee-shaped stained-glass windows, and square corner towers with crenelated parapets” adorns a sloped lot at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street in the city centre.
Rev. David Pollard says work to acquire the distinction began before he arrived in to lead the congregation in 2016, and now they are able to apply for provincial grants that could bolster efforts.
“We’re over 100 years old and there are things that need to be done,” said Pollard. “They have to be done well — you can’t cut corners — but that’s a good thing because they have to be done right.”
After replacing the roof of the building at a cost of $100,000 last year, the focus will now turn to recapping stone work and repointing masonry to prevent leaks and moisture.
This “top-down” approach, according to Pollard, was put in place several years ago by then building steward Martha Munz-Gue, who advocated for the maintenance program.
“She said ‘if we value the building then we have to preserve it,” said Pollard.
Analysis of the building, its physical characteristics and historic value was done by the city’s historic resources committee. That information will be detailed in an upcoming newspaper column by committee chair Malcom Sissons that will appear in Saturday’s edition of the News.
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