Highfield Baptist Church

Title

Highfield Baptist Church

Church Association

Westmorland-Kent Association

Province

New Brunswick

County

Westmorland County

Address

290 St. George St, Moncton, NB E1C 1W7

Status

Active

Date

1883 / 1923

Historical Information

The Moncton Free Christian Baptist Church was organized in 1877 in the Free Meeting House. In 1882, a lot was purchased on the corner of St George and Highfield. The original church building was a wood structure and provided seating for five hundred. It was completed in July and dedicated in September 1883. Between 1895 and 1899, extensive renovations and much-needed repairs were made, including redecorating the worship room. Following the Baptist union, the church was renamed ‘West End United Baptist Church.’ 

Sometime after 1904, the church building was deemed too small for the congregation’s needs. Plans were made to enlarge the structure by raising the building six feet and digging a basement beneath the auditorium. New entrances were provided in the front and the back was extended to make space for a choir. In its newly enlarged stage, the auditorium could seat seven hundred.

In 1909 the West End United Baptist Church changed its name to Highfield Street United Baptist Church. Due to rapid growth, it was decided to tear down the original church structure to make way for a larger building. The church was designed by architect Leslie G. Fairn of Aylesford, Nova Scotia. It was built by Rhodes Curry Company of Amherst, Nova Scotia between 1922 and 1923, and was dedicated on May 13, 1923.

The use of orange brick, contrasting light-coloured quoins and trim and a prominent bell tower ensured its place as an irreplaceable feature of the St. George Street streetscape. The use of Gothic tracery, gable pediments and parapets contrast the smooth contours of Roman arch openings and also help to break up the brick wall construction. The coffer panelled education room on the south side can be opened to expand the seating capacity and to allow extra natural light in through its clearstory windows.

In 1925 a Casavant organ was installed, rumoured at the time to be the largest two manual organ in the country. In 1926, extensive repairs were made to the exterior wall and tower of the church. Soon after the close of World War II a large-stained glass window was installed in memory of those lost in both World War I and II.

In 1953, the Youth Centre was added to the north side of the building. The accurate reproduction of detail by Modern Construction Company created a seamless integration with the existing structure. The Sands property on Fleet Street was purchased to provide fire exits in order to comply with fire regulations.

In 1963, the Fleet Street house was torn down to make way for a parking lot. Extensive repairs and improvements were made to the church property including the addition of a modern nursery, a heating system for the church basement, major repairs to the exterior walls, extensive interior redecoration, the purchase of new hymnals, laying new carpets throughout the auditorium, and the refurbishment of the ladies’ parlour.

In two phases beginning in 1963, the basement beneath the auditorium was completely renovated, making way for a chapel, memorial and women’s ministry rooms, and a spacious nursery. New floor covering was laid in the auditorium and overflow, and work done in the classrooms.

In 1976, plans were made to significantly remodel the auditorium, including lowering the choir area, building a new platform and baptistry, remodelling the organ, installing new carpet, and repainting. 

Highfield Street United Baptist Church is now known as Highfield Baptist Church. In 2005 the building was designated a Local Historic Place for its unique blend of English Gothic and Greek architectural designs. It is also recognized for being one of Moncton’s oldest religious organizations.

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Citation

“Highfield Baptist Church,” Atlantic Baptist Built Heritage Project , accessed July 19, 2024, https://atlanticbaptistheritage.omeka.net/items/show/122.

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