George Street United Church
(George Street, St. John's)
On February 11, 1862, the Reverend Edmund Botterell, the Hon. J.J. Rogerson and the Hon. Captain Edward White were appointed a committee by the St. John's District of the Methodist Church to select a site for a new church and Sunday school in what was then the west end of town. The laying of the cornerstone of the George Street Methodist Church ten years later, and the formal opening of the church and school for worship over 100 years ago, marked a pinnacle of Methodism in St. John's. In 1925, the George Street Wesleyan Church joined the newly-formed United Church of Canada.
Constructed with rough Newfoundland stone hewn from the Southside Hills (a gift from the Hon. Stephen Rendell), George Street United Church was designed by Elijah Hoole of London, England (who was also the architect of the present Gower Street United Church). The simple, modified Gothic style church was built in 1873 by master mason Richard Atwill of Devonshire, England, and joiner William Campbell of Queen's Road, St. John's.
George Street was the second Methodist congregation in St. John's, the first being Gower Street. The church building survived the Great Fire of 1892, and is therefore the oldest Methodist Church in the city. Built close to the St. John's harbour front, this stone building with its high bell tower became a familiar sight to vessels both large and small. At the time of construction, the church lay in a densely populated district lined with blacksmiths' forges, sail makers' and coopers' premises, and all the other businesses of a seaport. It was a central location for a working population living on New Gower Street, Water Street and the Southside.
In recent years, the stone walls of the church had begun to deteriorate so the congregation began to work on its restoration. The interior of the church has been kept in excellent repair, and the original wood beams and cross structure are still in place.
Most of the congregation today drives from other parts of St. John's to worship. But the presence of George Street United Church is still felt in downtown St. John's and its doors remain open to those who wish to worship within its walls. In 1873, an iron bell in the church tower rang out its invitation; today an electronic chime continues that tradition, sending its peals out over the rooftops of downtown St. John's twice a day.
The church was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure in March 2000.