Glace Bay United Baptist Church
The Glace Bay United Baptist Church is one of the finest examples in Cape Breton of Atlantic Canadian Baptist church architecture in an unsymmetrical design.
This building is typical in terms of style for its time; it is a prime example of the Akron design, an architectural plan that congregations were making use of in the first part of the twentieth century featuring a symmetrical design with the steeple centrally placed on the gable end, in a style that was usually Gothic or Greek Revival, but this church was more Classical in design with an asymmetrical design. The church marks a transitional phase in Baptist church architecture around the turn of the twentieth century from a symmetrical design, usually in the Gothic Revival style, with a centrally placed steeple on the gable end, to an asymmetrical design with the steeple place usually on the side of the structure. Many of these churches with an asymmetrical design are also based on a modified “Akron Plan,” so named because it was first used in Akron, Ohio in 1867. This design abandoned the traditional long, straight, and narrow sanctuary with a central aisle in favor of a shallower and wider sanctuary with a sloping floor and pews which sweep in a half-circle and are broken into three sections. The purpose of these features was to enable everyone to see and hear clearly in a time when sound and projection systems were nonexistent. Also typical of the Akron style are sliding walls which allow the gallery to be closed off when not needed, and doors on the Sunday School rooms which completely open the front wall of the classroom. In a true Akron style Sunday School, the classes would open these doors completely so that the superintendent would be in full view to address the whole Sunday school. Doors were then closed for the class time. The sliding door could also be opened to enlarge the seating capacity of the sanctuary.
Some of the most striking features of the exterior of this building include the two rectangular towers on the front façade, the one on the left being taller and historically containing a bell. Another striking feature on the front façade being the large, English Gothic Revival style window centrally placed on the gable end of the structure.
The interior of the structure has remained relatively unchanged since its construction. It contained three rows of curved back pews, with five aisles. At the back, behind the pulpit there is large pipe organ that stretches to the ceiling.
The Glace Bay United Baptist Church congregation has since disbanded and the ownership of the Church has been handed over the Lighthouse Church of Glace Bay, a non-denominational Christian organization established in the area in 2005.
Information provided by Acadia Archives and the Church.
Photo 1 courtesy of Acadia University.