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Hamilton Spectator: Demolition for St. Giles Church
Matthew Van Dongen | July 17, 2018

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Heritage designation set for rejection

https://www.thespec.com/news-story/8735118-heritage-designation-set-for-rejection/

From Issue No. 270 | July 20, 2018

Former St. Giles church destined for wrecking ball after planning committee decision

 
St. Giles

Teh former St. Giles United Church at the corner of Main Street East and Holton Avenue. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator 

 
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Inside the former St. Giles United Church at the corner of Main Street East and Holton Avenue. It was built 110 years ago. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator 

 
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the former St. Giles United Church at the corner of Main Street East and Holton Avenue. - John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator 

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Council is poised to reject a heritage designation for the former St. Giles United Church at the request of the cash-strapped congregation.

That planning committee decision, expected to be confirmed Friday, highlights the challenge of preserving fast-disappearing historic houses of worship in the face of growing maintenance bills and shrinking church membership.

The city's heritage committee and expert staff had urged council to protect the 110-year-old house of worship at the corner of Main Street East and Holton Avenue South, citing a unique neo-Gothic design and link to notable architecture firm Stewart and Witton.

But leaders of recently merged St. Giles and Centenary congregations, now New Vision United Church, pleaded with councillors to reject the designation request and allow the planned demolition of the building to make room for rental housing.

An emotional New Vision Rev. Ian Sloan said the merged congregations had to make the "difficult decision" to save one historic building and chose the former Centenary church downtown, which now also serves as a unique concert call.

"Something had to be done with one building … so the other one can remain standing," he said, explaining the church hopes to build rental housing at Main and Holton and use the revenues to cover repair and operational costs at New Vision downtown.

The church has already applied for a demolition permit and started to auction off stained-glass windows and interior elements like its organ and unique chandeliers.

The auction particularly disappointed some heritage advocates, including the chair of the city's committee, Alissa-Denham Robinson, who noted by email the sell-off would remove significant historical features before council gets to weigh in on designation.

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