This week, the City of Hamilton hosted a groundbreaking at the future St. Mark’s Centre. Once slated for demolition, the 145-year-old, downtown church is being transformed into a cultural venue and community hub.
Update: read my letter to the editor at theSpec.com.
Construction on this exciting, community-led adaptive reuse project starts this month, and includes renewal of the protected green space. Thanks to Janice Brown for inviting me to the groundbreaking event! Considering the number of at-risk church buildings in Hamilton and beyond — such as the historic St. Giles church — as well as the ongoing climate emergency, the project is truly visionary.
On Wednesday, CHCH’s Phil Perkins covered the groundbreaking festivities for the evening news:
From Teviah Moro’s article in today’s Spec:
A 145-year-old Hamilton church long on the city’s restoration to-do list is expected to reopen as a community centre in 2024.
The city has awarded a $4.6-million contract for the St. Mark’s Church adaptive reuse project and expects construction to start this month.
That’s welcome, if not belated, news for the Durand Community Association, which will make the 130 Bay St. S. church its home base.
“We’ll have to plan a big bash,” Janice Brown, a board member and heritage advocate, said Wednesday in anticipation of the project’s completion.
In 1994, the city bought the church, which had closed in 1989, for $425,000 to save it from demolition, but officials then balked at a $315,000 repair estimate.
Subsequent efforts to revamp the brick sanctuary, which has a gabled roof, bell tower and arched windows, never gained traction.
“So we saved the church, but it was literally a demolition by neglect of a city facility,” Coun. Jason Farr, who was first elected in 2010, said following a groundbreaking event Wednesday.
The project can proceed as planned thanks to a grant from the Patrick J. McNally Charitable Foundation, which also funded the city’s Placemaking Grant Pilot Program.
Seeing through plans for the outdoor community space was important for the foundation, board member Graham McNally said.
“Make it the best you can out of the gate so that it encourages people to use it and then it enhances the chances of success,” said McNally, who is an architect.
Brown noted the neighbourhood association would at long last have a dedicated space to hold meetings. “We have met in dining rooms since 1972.”
But she also looks forward to St. Mark’s hosting cultural events, weddings, birthday parties and concerts. “Things to bring community together.”
Located in Hamilton’s Durand neighbourhood, the former St. Mark’s Anglican was built in 1877 with additions in the 1880s (by Robert W. Gambier Bousfield) and 1920s.
More information, including drawings by ATA Architects, at the City of Hamilton website. Among the green initiatives listed are “preserving a heritage building and preventing its embodied energy and carbon from going to a landfill.”
Spectator print edition: “Restored St. Mark’s expected to open in 2024” (July 7, 2022, A7) | online: “145-year-old Hamilton church to transform into community centre.”
CHCH-TV (est. 1954) provides broadcast news for Hamilton and the surrounding Halton and Niagara regions. The Hamilton Spectator (est. 1846) is published by Metroland Media Group, a division of Torstar.
Photo: Barry Gray. Renderings: ATA Architects Inc.