TRURO – N.S – Eleanor Norrie has stood in the pews of First United Church ever since she was a little girl.
Decades later, she is filled with pride as the church on Prince Street will become a nationally-recognized landmark for the Canada Historic Places Day on July 7, together with the Colchester East Hants Library and the Colchester Historeum.
“I’ve always revered the place. I’ve been there since I was a child and been a member all my life and I’m very proud of the history of the congregation in the community,” said Norrie, now a church trustee. “Everyone’s proud of the fact that it’s standing strong after 100 years.”
The church was recognized a year after it raised a total of $172,000 to replace its aging windows. Window replacement will soon be completed but each one took a week to install.
Renovation work was also done on the roof, guttering and the tower. All told, restoration work on the church lasted for up to three years.
Prior to that, rainwater leaked through the walls and slowly rotted the old windows, which had to be braced up four years ago to prevent a safety hazard to churchgoers.
However, First United Church has a storied local history. First founded as a Presbyterian congregation on Robie Street, it later relocated to its current location on Prince in 1917.
The church’s move to Prince Street kept it close to Truro’s commercial core and a century ago it was the centre both social and religious life for Truro’s early residents.
In 1925, its congregation became Truro’s First United Church. That same year, the United Church of Canada was formed out of an alliance between the Congregational, Union of Methodists and some Presbyterian churches. The new United Church was formally inaugurated at a meeting Toronto that same year.
While United Church congregations have been declining nationally since a 1.064 million peak in 1965, its Truro membership still endures.
“It’s 100 years old and it is the oldest congregation probably in Atlantic Canada,” said Norrie. “The history of the town is tied to that church.”
Norrie added that any restoration work had to stay faithful to the church’s original style in order for it to be historically authentic.
The church itself was built in the Georgian architectural style common in neighbouring New England as well as the Canadian Maritimes. The building style is especially common in Halifax, where many brick, stone and wooden structures were designed this way between 1749 and 1840 by early British settlers.