Saskatoon Heritage Society hopeful Third Avenue United Church gets designation

Heritage status for Saskatoon’s Third Avenue United Church still up in the air
WATCH ABOVE: The future of a Saskatoon landmark remains uncertain. More than a century old, the Third Avenue United Church is renowned for its architectural and cultural value. Ryan Kessler reports.

The Saskatoon Heritage Society is hopeful a provincial board will recommend the Third Avenue United Church be designated a municipal heritage property.

The church at 304 3rd Ave. North, which first saw construction in 1911, was up for consideration during a Monday evening meeting of city council.

READ MORE: Third Avenue United Church closer to becoming Saskatoon’s next heritage property

“It’s a legacy from when the city was going through that wonderful boom time between 1911 [and] 1912,” Peggy Sarjeant, president of the Saskatoon Heritage Society, said.

“The city had great dreams of what it was going to be.”

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The heritage designation would be applied to the building’s exterior, along with the church’s hammer-beam rafters and Casavant organ.

However, a letter of objection from the previous owner of the church resulted in another hurdle in the ongoing efforts to get heritage status for the property.

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In the letter, John Orr, the head of a non-profit group that previously owned the church said the designation would “very significantly devalue the asset and will make the $3.5 million [he has] invested in it very difficult to realize.”

READ MORE: Buyer found for Third Avenue United Church

Orr acknowledged he is no longer the title holder of the building, though his letter stated the manner in which he lost ownership is before the courts.

The current owner, real estate agent Dale Anderson, said there is no such legal action and the property became his after Anderson financed another project and Orr used the church as security.

Orr defaulted, Anderson said, and the agent assumed ownership.

“[Orr] is trying to do everything possible to try and hold onto whatever he owned,” Anderson said.

He noted there are a few potential buyers for the property who have expressed interest in having the heritage designation be enacted.

Global News attempted to contact Orr, but was unsuccessful.

Council voted in favour of referring the matter to the Saskatchewan Heritage Property Review Board.

“I’m hoping that lots of people will let the provincial review board know that they believe this building is important and should be saved for the future,” Sarjeant said.

The provincial body will consider the submissions and return with a recommendation.