Grace Lutheran at risk

Grace Lutheran church was built in 1959 at 1107 Main St. W.

Grace Lutheran was back at City Hall this week. In March, I spoke to the Hamilton Planning Committee about this unique neo-Gothic church. Grace Lutheran was designed by renowned Hamilton architect William Russell Souter in 1959.

At the March meeting, councillors were considering the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee’s recommendations to add the former Grace Lutheran Church (1107 Main St. W.) to the Register and designation work plan.

The new owners paid $7.5 million for the property, and are working with IN8 Developments to redevelop the site. IN8 is proposing to demolish the church building and reconstruct the facade as a garden feature next to a 15-storey condominium tower and townhouses.

Grace Lutheran church was built in 1959 at 1107 Main St. W.
Grace Lutheran (William R. Souter, 1959) at 1107 Main St. W. is a listed heritage property. Photo: John Rennison.

Souter was a partner in Hutton & Souter, the Hamilton architects behind Delta Collegiate, Old Cathedral High School, the award-winning Basilica of Christ the King complex (visible from the 403), and Wentworth Baptist (Indwell’s Stonehouse Apartments). After Hutton’s death, Souter designed local houses of worship including Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Grace Lutheran, and Beth Jacob Synagogue, which was listed for sale in fall 2021.

Beth Jacob Synagogue (W.R. Souter & Associates, 1953) at 375 Aberdeen Ave. Photo: John Rennison.

In Toronto, Hutton & Souter’s McLaughlin Motor Car showroom was dismantled and reassembled in 1999, after construction of the Burano condo tower. Moving a Souter building like the showroom is a climate-friendly alternative to demolishing Grace Lutheran outright, if its current location on the site is inconvenient.

The reconstructed McLaughlin Motor Car showroom (Hutton & Souter, 1925) at 832 Bay St., Toronto. Image: Wikipedia.

Especially in a climate emergency, there are better, greener alternatives to demolishing Grace Lutheran — a beautiful landmark designed by a distinguished Hamilton architect — and putting it in a landfill. Our built environment, and its embodied carbon, is as precious and valuable a resource as our natural environment; it should be treated with the same care and respect.

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