Friends of the Spire unveil accessible renovations at Sydenham Street United Church
On Saturday afternoon the Sydenham Street United Church celebrated the official launch of The Spire, a rejuventation of the historical space, first built in the 1850s.
Local group Friends of the Spire is calling it “a beacon re-imagined,” and hope the building will continue to be a key community Hub in Kingston.
“A heritage building in a heritage district is preserved for the longer term and is sustainable because of the efforts we are putting in,” said Bruce Hutchinson, chair of Friends of the Spire.
Thanks to a campaign that began in the spring of 2017, funds were raised through community donations and grants for construction of a new elevator and washrooms to make the space accessible to all.
Construction work is ongoing, as the next phase includes ensuring accessibility at the William Street entrance. The Spire hopes to continue to raise community funds for that project, which could cost more than $60,000.
“We’re also looking at creating an endowment fund,” said Jack Soule, Friends of the Spire’s director. “We’ve set it up at the Kingston Community Foundation. That money will be used in the ongoing years to support maintenance.”
The Spire is designed for more than simply worship. Up to 1,200 people use the building each week for various activities and programs.
Friends of the Spire members take pride in the fact that the doors are open to anyone and everyone, no matter their beliefs.
“One of the things I am also very happy about is that I believe they’re one of the first [local] religious institutions to have a rainbow flag outside their door. So I think that’s very important,” said Sophie Kiwala, MPP for Kingston and The Islands.
“Doesn’t matter what your ability is, what your income is, what your sexual orientation is or your gender identity — all are welcome in this space and respected for who they are,” Hutchinson said.
The Spire was chosen as the new name for the facility because of the building’s Gothic Revival architecture.
Friends of the Spire’s aim is that the accessible space will continue to be an important cultural and community asset for decades to come.
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