“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared January 25, 1998.
First Baptist Church
• 1311 4th Street S.W.
• Built: 1911-1912
• Architect: D.S. McIlroy of Calgary (also designed the Oddfellows Temple)
• Contractor: Richard Brothers Company Limited
• Original cost: $152,000 for church and manse.
• Construction materials: Red brick with Calgary sandstone trim.
• Architectural style: Gothic Revival. Exquisite tracery on windows. "The steeple is 125 feet high, covered with copper shingles surmounted with wrought iron work."
• Original interior details: Sunday school hall with 13 classrooms, ladies parlour, pastor's study, meeting rooms, Sunday school library, dining hall (to accommodate 500), kitchen, store rooms and caretaker's quarters. Seating space for 1,360. Pews arranged on the raked floor so there was no central aisle. Barrel vault ceiling with a grid pattern of oak moulding. The altar, organ loft and choir located in a semi-circular depression behind an artificial stone arch. Extensive use of stained glass. Wood used throughout for wainscotting, door and window trim, pews, floors, balcony and altar. "The whole of the interior is finished in oak and from the ceiling hang magnificent brass electroliers, the central chandelier having seventy five lights. The Baptistry will be lined with white marble, and stands in the centre of oak panelling which will enclose a fine three manuel organ made by Cassavant Freres, of Quebec, and will cost $8,000."
• First Baptist was organized May 15, 1888 when seven of the sixteen Baptists in Calgary met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward King.
• The Fourth Street church was the third built by the congregation and the second designed by architect D.S. McIlroy.
• In May 1911 six lots at the corner of 13th Avenue and 4th St. S.W. were purchased for $25,000. When church officials handed the amount due to the acting solicitor, R.B. Bennett in cash he was so surprised that he contributed $1,000 toward the building fund.
• Money for construction was raised by many prominent citizens including former mayor and alderman, Thomas Underwood.
• Cornerstone laid July 12, 1911 by Dr. John Clifford of England one of the world's leading Baptists.
• Official dedication took place Sunday May 12, 1912. Membership at the time was 450 which included 90 non-residents.
• In 1951 a two storey brick youth centre was added to the south west corner of the church. The $48,000 addition containing a gymnasium, nursery, and Sunday School classrooms was paid off in two years.
• 1957 - a new parsonage was purchased in northwest Calgary and the original manse was converted into an administrative centre.
• 1958 - the congregation purchased church building and property (south of First Baptist on Fourteenth Avenue and Fourth Street S.W.) from the Seventh Day Adventists for $325,000.
• 1961-1962 - a $605,000 Christian Education Centre was constructed south of the church and joined to the main building by an underground tunnel. Officially opened April 15, 1962. Included church offices, classrooms, lounges, kitchen, fellowship hall and small chapel.
• 1966 - extensive interior renovations. Removal of upper balcony (to conform to city fire regulations), alterations to central altar and pulpit and the 53 year old organ was reconstructed.
• In 1988 First Baptist celebrated one hundred years of continuous ministry and service in Calgary.
• For more information about the history read The One Hundredth Milestone: The Story of First Baptist Church 1888 - 1988 published by First Baptist's Centennial Book Committee.
Alison Jackson Estate
Calgary Public Library, Central Library, Local History Room
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