Old St. Paul's Church
History of Old St. Paul's
The building at 723 Dundas Street, St. Paul’s Church, is set back from Dundas Street near Huron (Street) Road, in the City of Woodstock. The red-brick church was designed using elements of the Gothic and Classical architectural styles and was constructed in 1834.The exterior of the building and select elements of the interior, as well as the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1986). A Provincial plaque was erected to St. Paul’s Church in 1958. The property is also designated by the City of Woodstock under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw 5256-76).
Located at 723 Dundas Street in the City of Woodstock, St. Paul’s is set back from the street, on a large plot of land. The property also contains a cemetery.
St. Paul’s Church is significant for its association with Admiral Henry Vansittart (1778-1843), Captain Andrew Drew (1792-1878), and the development of the City of Woodstock. Drew came from England to Canada in 1832 as Vansittart’s agent, to acquire land and invest money on his behalf. One of Drew’s first undertakings was to build a brick church on one of the lots he acquired. This location was selected for the church with the intention that a town would develop around it.
Vansittart and his family set out for Canada on May 1st, 1834, accompanied by Rev’d Wm. Bettridge. Bettridge was sent out by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (an Anglican mission agency) to be the rector of St. Paul’s.
When the Vansittart family and Rev’d Bettridge arrived in Woodstock on June 21, 1834, the church was not finished. Vansittart and his sister, Mrs. East, donated £370 toward the church’s construction; the cost of the original project was £1800.
During the Rebellion of 1837-38, St. Paul’s was used as a temporary jail for suspected rebels captured by local militia.
NEW St. Paul’s Anglican Church was built at the intersection of Wellington and Dundas Streets in 1879 to accommodate the growing congregation. As a result of this relocation, St. Paul’s was closed in 1879 and then re-opened to serve the Anglican community in 1882. St. Paul’s was renamed as OLD St. Paul’s.
St. Paul’s is an early example of the Gothic Revival style in Ontario church architecture. The Gothic features include the lancet windows and dichromatic brickwork. The chancel was added to the original church in 1843 and the transepts were added in 1851. The window and door openings have vernacular brick hoods. There is a combination of lancet and pointed-arch windows on all facades. The front elevation has a classically-inspired returned cornice, a semi-circular transom over the main entrance door with a brick pediment and pilasters. The tower has a hexagonal cupola with louvered, pointed-arch openings. The base of the cupola is decorated with a dentil trim and bracketed cornice. The low-pitched, timber-frame roof is an example of construction methods used during the 1830s.
There is wainscoting and crown moulding encircling the sanctuary, and hardwood floors. The surviving box pews are a prominent feature of the interior. The stained-glass window in the Baptistry is the work of the McCausland Co. of Toronto. The series of additions made to the church have resulted in an irregular plan.