Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knox Church spruces up

Knox Presbyterian Church is a familiar site on Elgin Street at Lisgar. Anyone who attends Lisgar Collegiate or works at City Hall has probably walked past it hundreds of times on the way to Elgin. Here's the view from the kitty-corner:

As the Church's website explains, this is actually Ottawa's third Knox Church. The first one was in Sandy Hill. The second, opened in 1874, was on Elgin and Albert. This colourized postcard showing a photograph taken sometime between 1912 and 1915 from the old City Hall shows Knox Church in the foreground, with the still-extant First Baptist behind it on Elgin and Laurier, and Victoria Memorial Museum Building-with tower-in the background.

The only other remaining landmarks in this photo are the spire of the Normal School (now Ottawa City Hall's heritage building) behind the Roxborough apartments on the left, and at far right St George's Church, which has since lost its spire.

Here's another view from the 1910's, an aerial shot showing the canal, Union Station, Chateau Laurier, the East Block, and various other landmarks. Knox Church is at the bottom of the photo, just to the right of centre.

The second Ottawa City Hall sits above it. (We can also see J.R. Booth's Transportation Building at Rideau and Sussex, which housed Ottawa's City Hall after this one burned down in 1931).

Around the same time, Knox Church was deemed to be in the way of then-Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie-King's vision of a wider Elgin Street, and it was expropriated. A new church was built in 1932, with the cornerstone indicating the dates 1844-1932.

Last May, part of the forbidding wrought-iron fence on the Elgin street frontage was removed, to the left of the parking meter in this photo:

The fence was since replaced with a much more inviting bed of flowers, seen here in mid-August 2009.

And while we're documenting Knox Church, we'd might as well show its less-often-displayed side, along the border with the neighbouring building on Lisgar:

After two weeks away from Elgin Street for Bluesfest, I came back today to notice this new man-sized sign in the lawn:

It certainly makes the gothic church a trifle more inviting. I do like this building, if only that it's one of the few in Ottawa to feature flying buttresses!

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