Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Culture: An architectural jewel in Halifax's North End

A little about St. George's Round Church
(Quoted sections are from the Church's web site. See link below.)

Photo: Jimmy Emerson (Flickr Creative Common License)
The construction of the "Round Church", the second St. George's in Halifax, began in 1800. "Its circular Palladian design, like that of Halifax Town Clock, was a product of the architectural taste of Edward, Duke of Kent, commander of the forces in Nova Scotia and son of George III, who played an active role in the planning of the new building."

Logo designed for the
Restoration project (by me)
and still in use by the Chruch
"Originally perfectly round, a porch and chancel were added between 1822-1827, creating a structure, which, despite later alterations and additions, closely resembled what the visitor sees today."

"The Church faced what was perhaps the greatest crisis in its history when in June of 1994 over 40% of the structure was destroyed by fire. The decision to re-build led to a wave of support from across Canada as well as from abroad. Sensitive restoration ensured that St. George's has risen again to continue to serve the Halifax community as a centre for social outreach, a venue for musical and other artistic activities, but above all a place for the elevation and solace of the spirit."

The design company I previously worked with was the first to offer pro-bono assistance with any rebuilding effort that potentially would take place. We had a tour of the structure within days of the fire. It was a terrible mess. The dome had completely fallen in and the fine interior was open to the elements. At the time it was difficult to imagine it could ever be saved.

I was closely involved with the design and production of the promotional materials that were used by the reconstruction committee to solicit funds. My client contact for this massive undertaking was Anne West, a former Assistant Director of Public Affairs at Saint Mary's University. She eventually became Chair of the Fundraising Committee and Public Relations Chair. Their work took a small army of volunteers. Almost $4.7 million was raised for the project.

Section destroyed by the fire
Two and a half years later, the work was completed and the building was restored to its former glory.

Because of the fine reconstruction, TimberhArt Woodworkers won the 1997 "People's Choice Award, Historical Category" from the Timber Framers Guild of North America for the restoration of the dome.

A set of free-standing plaques now stand in the side yard of the church, commemorating the history of St. George's and the effort to rebuild after the disaster.

Besides ministry, St George's also offers programs for youth in the area under the name Youth Net, and the church is also host to a varied musical outreach, both classical and contemporary in style.

Photos: Jimmy Emerson (Flickr Creative Commons License)
If you are a visitor to Halifax, or a resident who has never seen its interior, it is well worth going.

More information about St. George's, and its ministry, is available at or below.

St George's Round Church, 2222 Brunswick St, Halifax NS B3K 2Z3
Rector and Parish Office (902) 423-1059

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