Church commemorating victims of Halifax Explosion now on list of most endangered buildings
A church built to commemorate the Halifax Explosion is now on the list of the most endangered historical buildings in Canada.
United Memorial Church has been purchased by a developer who has plans to demolish it to build residential units, but heritage advocates believe that it’s worth saving.
The former United Memorial Church was erected in the north end of Halifax in 1921 to memorialize victims of the Halifax Explosion. Andrew Murphy, the president of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, would like to see it saved.
“Over the years it became a symbol much like the hydrostone market and is of great importance for that commemoration,” says Murphy.
The Halifax Advisory Committee recommended Municipal Heritage Designation in January 2018, but Halifax Regional Council declined. Councillor David Hendsbee sits on the Heritage Committee and hopes council will re-evaluate the importance of the property.
“We had problems with the scoring of the heritage property because a lot of the score issues for pre-100 years ago, and now we’re looking at some changes of the scoring,” Hendsbee says.
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The church is just shy of 100 years old and was designed by Andrew Cobb, one of Halifax’s most famous architects. The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia thinks it’s in the best interest of the developer and the city to have the church declared a heritage designation.
“What we know is that if they get a heritage designation that they can put maybe as many as 30 or 40 units in the existing build in what’s called a heritage residential conversion,” says Murphy.
A residential conversion would require the developer to maintain the outside structure of the church, but Michael Napier, the architect working on the development, says that might not be possible.
“We understand the historical significance of the building and the developers have proposed the city purchase the property to maintain the historical structure. We have a demolition permit and will move forward with that if the property does not sell,” says Napier.
The developer is open to converting the property into a museum or heritage site, but has not been contacted by the city.
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