Windemere Road elevation (Windsorite News)
01 . 29 . 2015

Demolition permit sought for landmark St. Barnabas Church

AUTHOR Sharon Hill

St. Barnabas Church with its extraordinary modernist design should be saved from demolition, Windsor heritage planner John Calhoun said Wednesday.

“I think it’s one of the finest 1950s buildings we’ve got.”

The landmark church at Chilver and Tecumseh roads has been vacant and for sale for a few years.

In early January a demolition permit was sought. The building is not designated but because it is on the city’s heritage register, a demolition permit is not automatic, Calhoun said. The issue will go before the planning, heritage and economic development committee Feb. 9 and then to council. A decision would have to be made in March.

Calhoun is preparing a report and said he is recommending to administration and to the committee the 1955 building be saved.

Calhoun is hoping the owner will not rush to demolish the building but allow time to consider a creative reuse of the church that keeps the shell of the building. He said it could contain a two- or three-storey retail space.

“Windsor has thousands of 1950s buildings and most of them do not have the sense of extraordinary design as this one does,” Calhoun said.

The church property along Tecumseh Road between Chilver and Windemere is listed for $269,000.

Canon Paul Rathbone, the secretary/treasurer with the Anglican Church of Canada Diocese of Huron, said the church has been for sale for a couple years but there is no market for churches. He said a commercial developer is interested but does not want the buildings.

Rathbone said the lack of parking has been an issue with trying to sell the building.

Calhoun said there is a small church built in 1939 which is on the heritage register and a house on the site which could be torn down. He said he would recommend the smaller church be removed if needed. It could give the site more parking space which might help the main building be saved, he said.

Rathbone was not aware of that possibility Wednesday but said it may not be enough to make the property suitable for a buyer.

“The diocese is still caring for the maintenance and utilities and we would like to come to a resolution with it so we can move forward with funds for ministry,” Rathbone said.

A few years ago, the members of St. Barnabas merged with another church and became part of the new Saint Augustine of Canterbury Church.

The 1955 St. Barnabas church is a massive structure of white concrete and stone that has a feeling of airiness and light inside, Calhoun said. There are small stained-glass windows of different colours.

The architect was Philip Carter Johnson, who worked out of London and won an award for the design of Knox Presbyterian Church in Goderich which survived the tornado a few years ago.

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