Parrsboro United Baptist Church

Title

Parrsboro United Baptist Church

Creator

Avery Jackson

Source

Information provided by the Atlantic Baptist Archives and the church.

Church Name

Parrsboro United Baptist Church

Church Association

Cumberland Association

Province

Nova Scotia

County

Cumberland County

Address

3919 Eastern Ave, Parrsboro, NS

Status

Active

Date

Built 1860

Historical Information

In 1859 the Parrsboro Baptist Church was established, and soon after the congregation decided to begin constructing their church. This church was completed by carpenters James Crowe, Mason Allen, and John Allen. When the church was first established, women did not have the right to vote on matters of church business; however, this was changed in 1898.

Over the years the interior of the church has changed, with the addition of an organ, at a cost of $45.00 in 1900, and the addition of a baptistry, at a cost of $35.00, in 1904.

The main body of the church is a pleasant blend of both Gothic Revival and Classical styles, typical for its time. This is evident in the classical return eaves, on the gable end, and the classical medallion window, set up high near the top of the tower. Hints of gothic revival architecture are evident through the use of corner gothic pilaster boards, gothic rounded top windows, and hooded trim boards. A typical stylistic choice for churches of this time was a centrally placed tower on the gable end, with gothic windows lining the eave-sides of the structure, as noticed in the architecture of this building. Making the shape of an ell on the back right side of the church is a vestry, which appears to have been original to the church structure.

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.

In 1946 the church received a new pipe organ, replacing the one that was previously purchased in the 1800’s. In 1950, the church received a bell, which somewhat altered the style of the tower. With the addition of the bell, the original Gothic Revival windows were replaced with wooden vents that were made in the same size and style of the original windows, to allow for the sound of the bell to carry.

Later the church was extensively damaged by a fire in 1957, after which much of the interior of the church was renovated and new pews were added.

Originally this church had a tall, slender, steeple covered in cedar shakes, and later black asphalt shingles. In 2017, due to this part of the church’s state-of-repair, it was decided to remove it and replace it with a four-sided pyramid shaped cape, covered in copper coloured steel and topped with a wooden cross.

Information provided by the Atlantic Baptist Archives and the church.

Files

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Citation

Avery Jackson, “Parrsboro United Baptist Church,” Atlantic Baptist Built Heritage Project , accessed April 14, 2024, https://atlanticbaptistheritage.omeka.net/items/show/492.

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