The First Building
On October 19, 1878, The Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School rented the Old Temperance Hall on Victoria Street for the St. John’s East District of the Methodist Church. This event can be considered the beginning of Cochrane Street congregation.
In February 1879, Mr. Gibb, a local architect, was interviewed by the Building Committee, the members of which were Mr. Edward White, Mr. H. J. B. Woods, Mr. George W. Mews and Mr. James Angel. On September 19, 1879, the Trustees accepted the offered piece of ground on Cochrane Street for erection of a church – the lease being for 70 years.
A Committee comprising Rev. Job Shenton, Rev. Charles Ladner, Mr. George Gear, Mr. John Angel, Mr. Edward White, Mr. J. J. Rogerson, and Mr. H. J. B. Woods was appointed to further consult with an architect about plans and specifications for a new church, with the cost not to exceed £2700.
The Evening Telegram reported on the development of our church. On Monday, May 3, 1880: “A new Methodist Sabbath School was organized yesterday afternoon in the Temperance Hall.” On Friday, May 7, 1880: “The Methodists of the city have increased so rapidly during the past few years that another Church is now absolutely necessary. We understand that a handsome edifice, large enough to meet the requirements of the East End people, will be erected on Cochrane Street as soon as possible.”
Saturday, September 4, 1880
“The cornerstone of the Methodist church about to be built on Cochrane Street will be laid by Mrs. Shenton on Tuesday morning next at 11 o’clock. The trustees and friends will meet in Gower Street Church and go from there to the site of the new church. Appropriate ceremonies will be observed and short addresses delivered.” (The Evening Telegram)
Tuesday, September 7, 1880
“The corner stone of the Methodist Church about to be erected on Cochrane Street was laid at 11 o’clock to-day, according to announcement. A report of the interesting ceremony will appear in tomorrow’s paper.” (The Evening Telegram)
September 8, 1880
“The cornerstone was laid on Tuesday, September 7, 1880 by Mrs. Job Shenton, wife of the Superintendent of St. John’s Circuit of the Methodist Church. This building would be the third Methodist church in St. John’s after Gower Street and George Street.” (The Evening Telegram)
Mr. Gibb, a prominent architect in St. John’s, was hired to design the church. After approval of the plans, a tender for the construction was called and awarded to John Score General Contracting of St. John’s. The value of the contract was $25,000.
With a slender spire rising 114 feet on the north corner, the building was Gothic in design, measuring 84.5 feet long and 50.5 feet wide. The building was entered on Cochrane Street through three Gothic-shaped front doors. The interior had galleries on both sides and the end. The seating capacity was 800 persons. The interior of the building was of pitch pine which darkened with age. The pulpit and communion rail were of walnut, with the walls painted a light green.
The basement had a Sabbath School room of 50 x 12 feet and an infants’ room of 34 x 30 feet. The latter had raised seats and was separated from the other room by folding doors. With two other rooms in the basement, the basement space provided for a main Sunday School space along with a primary room, class room and library.
The cost of the church, including organ and furniture was £6250 with the building’s final cost being £5278. The Ladies Church and Parsonage Aid Society gave £500 towards the cost of the organ. At the time of opening the building, the remaining debt was £1437.
The church was dedicated on Sunday, May 14, 1882. The minister at the time was the Rev. Dr. George Bond. At the 11 AM service, the ministers who assisted were Rev. Charles Ladner, President of Newfoundland Conference of the Methodist Church, Rev. Peach, Rev. Milligan, Rev. Percival and Rev. James. The sermon was preached by Rev. Ladner with the formal dedication following the sermon. At 3 PM, Rev. David Beaton of the Congregational Church preached on Matthew 17:8, (And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.) At 6:30 PM, Rev. L. G. McNeil of the Presbyterian Church was the preacher. His sermon was based on John 4:38, (I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.)
The collection was £114 10S. Some of the pews were disposed of [distributed to congregational members] by auction, with £460 realized from 29 pews.
The officials of the church at the opening were: Rev. Dr. George J. Bond, minister; Mr. H. J. B. Woods, Superintendent of the Sunday School; Mr. George Gear and Mr. H. J. B. Woods, Chapel Stewards; Mr. Nathaniel March and Mr. H. M. Gibbs, Society Stewards; Mr. George Gear and Mr. George Luscombe, Poor Fund Stewards. The Organist, Mr. Arthur Mews, was appointed officially on April 20, 1883. The organ was “opened” [put into use] on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1883.
If you would like to learn more about our history, you can read more about: