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st. andrews church

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St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

The original St. Andrews church was built in 1794 and was one of the first churches built in Upper Canada. A group of presbyterians, of Scottish descent, met regularly at the Hind's Hotel. They decided to erect a small church and were granted four acres on which construction began shortly afterwards.

The church was taken over by the Americans and burned to the ground in the War of 1812. In 1813 a petition to the Earl of Dalhousie requesting money to rebuild the church was turned down because the spire of the church had been used by both the British and American forces as a look-out post. Eventually the request was granted and paid out over a period of years.

By 1830 the congregation had enough funds to begin work on a new church that could seat 600 people. The foundation of the church was laid in 1831 with Rev. Robert McGill giving the opening prayer and address. John Davidson, a master carpenter, constructed the pulpit in 1840 from native Black Walnut. A special fund was set up and all donations were used to purchase a church bell in 1852 to call people to worship.

The church would survive a tornado, a lightening strike and several fires. In 1855 the spire was severely damaged by a hurricane and not fully repaired for many years. The storm also damaged the rear portion of the roof and when reconstructed it was given a hipped form to prevent further damage to the imposing structure in the future.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, with it's towering steeple and massive doric columns is a fine example of Georgian architecture. Until 1845 the church and school, known as Kirkhall were used as a place of learning where students were taught Latin, Greek, Mathematics and religious training. The old school was also used as a make-shift church from 1813 until the new St. Andrews Church was completed. In the mid 1940's the old school was demolished and replaced with a building from the Old Army Camp (Butler's Barracks). The new Kirkhall was remodelled and refaced with red brick to match the church.

St. Andrews suffered severe damge in 1950 when during renovations, sparks from a welder's torch ignited a blaze. Quick action by the Niagara Volunteer Fire Department most likely saved the church but the fire caused an estimated $10,000.00 in damages.

Across the road from the church is the Manse. Originally built by Dr. Robert McGill, the minister in 1835 the property was purchased with 750 pounds willed to the church by Rev. John Young for "the perpetual maintenance of divine ordinances in the church."