Description of Historic Place
Constructed in 1841 on the foundation of the original church, the Holy Trinity Anglican Church is an excellent example of the early English form of the Gothic Revival Style. This brick building features a central tower with white steeple, a crenellated parapet in front of the gable end and a large aureole window above the main entrance. A cemetery with several graves is located at the front of the church, and the property is situated at 7820 Portage Road in Niagara Falls. The property is designated by the City of Niagara Falls under By-law No. 83-281.
The building's location on Portage Road, one of Niagara Falls' earliest and most vital transportation links, makes it part of a collection of sites that have been designated for heritage value due to their role in the development of the community of Chippawa, and later part of Niagara Falls. The spiritual value of the Holy Trinity Church lies in its function as a religious institution that provided a place of worship for the developing Anglican congregation in Upper Canada. The church still serves the community to this day.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church is the first church in Chippawa and one of the oldest parishes in the province, thus having significant historical importance. The congregation developed in 1820 after a petition was sent to the Church of England requesting a clergyman for Chippawa. This petition led to the arrival of Reverend William Leeming, from England, who would become a very prominent and respected man in the community. He played an important role in the area's development.
The original church was burned in 1839 by followers of William Lyon MacKenzie during the MacKenzie Rebellion, which included the destruction of other landmarks, such as Brock's Monument in Queenston Heights. The present church structure, built in 1841 on the foundation of the original church, has had several prominent citizens in attendance during its long history. Laura Secord, widely known as a heroine of the War of 1812, was a member of the congregation, and her original headstone from the Drummond Hill Cemetery was relocated to the entranceway of the Holy Trinity Church. Wall plaques inside the church pay respect to William Leeming, Thomas Cummings and Gilbert McMicking. Cummings was an original member of the congregation and one of Chippawa's earliest settlers, while McMicking was an early supporter to the church. Other notable guests included King Edward VII (Prince of Wales at the time) during his Canadian tour, as well as famous Swedish Opera singer Jenny Lind.
As an impressive example of the early English form of the Gothic Revival, the church exhibits several architectural features that add to its heritage value. The Gothic Revival architecture is evident in the pointed arches of the church windows and entrances. Neo-classical tradition is conveyed in the simple symmetrical layout and amount of exterior detailing. The foundation consists of local stone with a limestone trim, which differs from the 1841 brick exterior of the church. The church features a medium gable roof with a square bell tower at the west end, and a large, wooden Boomtown front flanks the tower. The central tower shows off a beautiful almond-shaped or 'aureole' stained glass window, and the tower includes roof trim on which four smaller steeples stand. Between the four steeples is a larger, decorated steeple made of copper. The front façade boasts an elegant arched entranceway with decorated embrasure around the eight panel wood double doors. The church also has an attractive roof trim consisting of a boxed cornice with a decorated frieze.
Sources: By-law No. 83-281, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 1983; “Holy Trinity Church”, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 1976; “Chippawa's Holy Trinity celebrating 175th anniversary”, Sherman Zavitz, The Niagara Falls Review, June 5, 1995.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church include its:
- location along the early transportation route of the area
- original foundation, which stands as a reminder of an earlier church building occupying the property before the MacKenzie Rebellion
- multiple graves at the front of the church, commemorating notable citizens including Laura Secord and her husband James
- wall plaques in honour of Reverend William Leeming, Thomas Cummings and Gilbert McMicking, all early supporters of the church
- limestone foundation which served as support for both the original and present structures
- arched entranceway with decorated embrasure around eight panel wooden double doors
- roof trim of boxed cornice with a decorated frieze
- medium gable roof with a square bell tower at the west end
- decorated and painted wooden area finishing the inset of the arch at the entrance
- large stained glass almond-shaped window on the tower
- four small steeples with a larger, decorated steeple in the middle, made of copper
- large stained glass windows flanking the tower with pointed arch openings