I'm in Grand Falls today, helping sort out some oral history collections with the Grand Falls-Windsor Historical Society (more on that in a future post).
Before I left St. John's, Margaret Scott with St. Matthew's Presbyterian Church heard that I was going to be visiting Grand Falls, and tracked me down. They have a collection of historical documents they want to do something with, so I met with them today, and had a brief chat about their materials and the possibility of doing some digitization work, and potentially some oral history recording around the life and history of the church and congregation.
Today, there are about twenty active members of the congregation, which holds a service once a month. The church is one of the oldest buildings in Grand Falls, and was the first municipally designated heritage building for the town, officially recognized as such on October 11, 2005. It is the only Presbyterian church in Newfoundland outside of St. John's.
St. Matthew's Presbyterian Church is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places, which notes that the building was constructed in 1910, and is the last remaining original church structure in Grand Falls. It is a fine example of a small, country-style church in an urban setting. It has some Gothic Revival style elements, such as multi-paned, Gothic arched windows, as used in similar small churches in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is currently undergoing some repair work.
The building has undergone a number of changes over the years. The interior of the church was redone in the 1950s, and has been largely untouched since.
The church has a number of interesting archival items documenting the construction and changes to the church over the years, including a copy of the original construction blueprints and photos of the building at various stages, including the one below showing the church before renovations.
Other photos in the collection document church suppers, youth events, women's groups, and special events such as the dinner below, held between 1-2 April 1951.
I am looking forward to seeing more of the St. Matthew's archival material, and wish them success with their preservation efforts!
- Dale Jarvis