Church Street Awarded Plaque

Edmonton Historical Board recognizes 96 Street’s significance

By Wendy Aasen & Rob Stack
Originally published in Boyle McCauley News, December 2010/January 2011

In June, the McCauley Community League was informed that 96 Street, Church Street, had been selected by the Edmonton Historical Board for plaque recognition. That plaque was presented on November 4 at the 36th Annual Recognition and Plaque Awards reception held at the Prince of Wales Armouries and Heritage Centre.

The recognition came about because the McCauley Community League, the media, a few community members, and our former City Councilor Ben Henderson, while working to save St. Stephen’s church, brought Church Street to the attention of City of Edmonton heritage planners and the Historic Board.

As the Edmonton Historical Board has written, “These plaques act as a reminder to the public of the importance a site or building has in our community. A plaque places no restrictions on the building or limitations on renovations, modifications, or development . . . They are purely informational.”

The League Executive asked McCauley Community League Board Oral Historian, Antoinette Grenier, to accept the plaque for the community of McCauley because of her long residence here and in recognition for her individual advocacy work on behalf of the community

The plaque reads (excerpts):

“Stretching from just south of Jasper Avenue northward to 111 Avenue, and spanning some seventy years of Church architecture in Edmonton, Church Street features a remarkable collection of thirteen houses of worship built between the turn of the twentieth century and the early 1970s.

Church Street not only displays the construction that took place during this period, but also represents a wide variety of architectural styles, ranging from the Byzantine and French Gothic revival to the Prairie Church, Asymmetrical Modern, and Modern.

Church Street’s oldest building is the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, built in 1903 at a cost of $10,000.

Central Baptist (1913), Sacred Heart (1913), Grace Methodist (1913), St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican (1914), and Church of Christ (Disciples) (1914) were all built at the tail end of Edmonton’s first boom, before the outset of World War I. The new churches ministering to several Christian denominations reflect the growing plurality of Edmonton’s religious and spiritual needs.

Through the interwar period, the growing population required new churches. Included among these are St. Peter’s Lutheran Church (1928), and St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral and the Ansgar Lutheran Church, both completed in 1939 following the worst years of the Depression.

Following the Second World War four new churches called 96 Street home. The First Christian Reform Church (1948), the Chinese United Church (1953), St. Barbara’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1957), and St. John’s Lutheran Church (1971) illustrate various postwar architectural styles and have collectively lent a distinctively modern look to Church Street.”

The League thanks the following people for helping to save St. Stephen’s and on behalf of Church Street: Robert Geldart, David Holdsworth, Eric Strikwerda, Sonia Caligiuri, Ben Henderson, Paula Simons, Martin Garber-Conrad, Paula Kirman, the Edmonton Historical Board, the fabulous congregations of Church Street, and the wonderful people of McCauley.

Plaque placement will be decided at some point in the future.

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