Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Message from the Architect


The building program for St. James Anglican Church was first presented to the Congregation in February, 1963, and envisioned a three phase planned development.  Phase I of course was the new Parish Hall which was completed in 1965 and served to extend the facilities of the old Hall (not to replace them).  Phase II provided for the demolition of the old church and the erection of a new church. Finally Phase III was to complete the program by replacing the old Parish Hall with a new wing to provide Classroom facilities for the Sunday School.


We are now completing Phase II a year in advance of the date envisioned in the original report.  This is an achievement of which the people of St. James Church can be very proud, and is due in no small part to the wonderful 5pirit and enthusiasm which has prevailed.


When consideration was given to the siting of a new church building it was apparent that the old St. James would have to give way.  However, when the time for decision came the Architect could not discount the original recommendations made in his 1963 report.


Old St. James was a unique structure in that it contained in its fabric the original old school house built in 1857 and four subsequent additions which finally accounted for a nave 90 feet by 21 feet wide.  Unusual dimensions for a nave, to say the least, but perhaps this was part of the charm of old St. James.


The new church now incorporates within its roof structure the original chancel end and 22 feet of the old nave.  This was achieved by placing the main body of the new church on an east-west axis and arranging the centreline of the church crossing to coincide with the north-south axis of the old church.  In this way the old chancel end becomes a small chapel (seating capacity - 40) and in plan form occupies the position of a south transept.


On this same axis and in the position of a north transept will be found the Church Vestry and Office.


The main body of the Church is contained in a rectangular plan form 121 feet long by 65 feet wide.  Within this space the nave and chancel end are enclosed by a main roof structure consisting of rigid laminated wood arches and 3" thick T & G plank decking.


It is to be noted that the arches have a maximum height and span (44' and 50' respectively) at the crossing and are reduced at each bay as they approach the east and west ends.


The purpose behind this arrangement of the roof structure was twofold.  First to create the interior space, which for the congregation seated in the nave, would be an experience of a widening horizon, symbolizing the even expanding horizon of our Christian outlook; and having created a feeling of space by an upward and outward view of the crossing from the nave, then once again to redirect the visual thoughts of the congregation to the chancel end with its slight taper towards the sanctuary, the altar and the cross.


The twofold purpose of the design concept also gave recognition to the importance of achieving an external expression of a building erected specifically for the worship of God.  The roof lines towards the crossing of the church and culminating in a beautiful Spire is, intended to express the heavenly direction of worship, in words of prayer and songs of praise.


Having mentioned the spire it is interesting to note that the original intention was to use conventional steel framing. wood sheathing and copper cladding.  However, it was found possible to have the entire steeple (45'-0') moulded in fibreglass and this proved a very interesting and successful undertaking.


Duffus, Romans, Single & Kundzins


February 4, 1967