First Baptist Church – Burrard Street

Burrard Baptist

We caught a glimpse of this church in the previous post. Like Christ Church to the north, the church is the original on the site, on the north-west corner with Nelson Street. It was even a vacant site before the church was built – there were no previous structures here before the building permit was taken out in 1909. That’s not true to the south, where there were houses before St Andrews Wesley was built, as we saw in an earlier post. The cost of the church was $75,000, and the builders were Matheson & Heard. The architect was listed as ‘Burk’ – although really that was Burke, Horwood and White, based in Toronto and also responsible for the Hudson’s Bay store design. It was completed in 1911 in a Gothic Revival style, although the interior is newer. A 1931 fire destroyed the original interior and roof, and the replacement was more Arts and Crafts in style.

The rebuilding was led by Charles Bentall, a member of the church, who he was present in 1911 when the cornerstone was laid in 1910 by John Morton, one of the three original purchasers of the West End land holdings. Bentall was president of the Baptist Union of Western Canada from 1929 for four years, as well as head of Dominion Construction, He had been superintendent of the Sunday School on Burrard for many years although by 1928 he attended the Grandview Baptist Church – a more modest frame building. Bentall personally supervised the reconstruction – he even took a trip to the eastern US to source acoustic tile for the ceiling to sound proof the structure. This 1914 image shows the church three years after it was completed.

While there have been few changes to the church since the 1930s reconstruction, that may not stay true for much longer. The rezoning of the adjacent YMCA building, with a residential tower to fund the reconstruction and heritage restoration of that building also included a future tower behind the Baptist church.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1239

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Posted January 31, 2014 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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