Century-old church could get new light-up bell tower thanks to heritage conservation

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Published May 21, 2024 at 4:19 pm

A more than 100-year-old church with roots tied to the formation of Brampton could get a facelift in the form of a new light-up tower display.

Located in Brampton’s Snelgrove community on Hurontario Street, the Snelgrove Baptist Church opened its doors in 1905 in the village of Snelgrove and was the third such church built in the community at the time.

The city says the church’s congregation grew to its peak in 1914 but declined steadily due to the impact of both World Wars, closing for the first time in 1946. The church reopened briefly in 1959 only to close a few years later and was purchased by the Church of Archangel Michael and St. Tekla in the ’90s.

An application to demolish the church was denied in 2020 with the city citing “the Cultural Heritage Value of the building.” Instead, the owners agreed to a restoration that would include a tribute to the old bell tower. The church is already part of both Brampton’s and Ontario’s heritage property roster, and the city is looking to return the building to part of its former glory.

Along with structural and physical improvements to the building, a conservation plan submitted to the city includes plans for an “abstract interpretation of the former bell tower” made from a steel frame with “interpretive lighting” replacing the demolished square wooden bell tower.

The plan also includes nighttime lighting of the property and cements the church’s status “as a landmark along Hurontario Street,” the city says.

The building faces onto Hurontario Street and is surrounded by the Region of Peel’s Snelgrove Place seniors apartment building. The area is mostly single-family homes with St. Rita Elementary School nearby and two commercial plazas on Mayfield Road to the south.

The plan was developed by Giaimo Architects and the work would come at no cost to the city, according to a report going to Brampton’s Heritage Board for approval on Tuesday.

Christened after the Snell family who raised cattle in the area, the village changed its name from Edmonton due to confusion on the rail lines with the capital of Alberta.

The city is expected to make a decision on the conservation plan on Tuesday.

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