Historic Sackville church put up for sale

The Sackville United Church congregation voted on Sunday to sell the 130-year-old downtown church after deciding it could not afford to renovating the aging building.

The Sackville United Church congregation voted to sell the 130-year-old downtown church after deciding it could not afford to renovating the aging building.

The structure is starting to show its age with cracked walls and pillars. The building also needs a new roof and windows.

When all of the renovations are tallied up, the church estimates the repair bill would be roughly $350,000.

Ron Kelly-Spurles, the chair of the Sackville United Church council, said the congregation isn't big enough to raise that much money for the repairs.

"It seats more than 1,000 people and generally on a typical Sunday, there'd be 80 to 100 people," Kelly-Spurles said.

The congregation voted more than 70 per cent in favour of putting it up for sale. The church is asking for $1.2 million and is open to proposals.

But given the building is in the heart of the downtown, Kelly-Spurles said developers would have to meet certain criteria under the town's heritage bylaw.

One woman recently wrote an open letter, urging the church not to sell the building.

Construction of the church started in 1875 and it is on the site of a Methodist brick chapel that was built in the 1830s.

According to its website, the church was described as "an ornament to the town and a credit to the members of the Methodist church" when it was dedicated.

Heritage building controversy

This would not be the first historic building to face the wrecking ball in Sackville that has garnered public opposition.

Earlier this fall, a group of alumni went to court to save another historic building, Mount Allison's Memorial library.

Kelly-Spurles says this case isn't as controversial as the Mount Allison University situation.

"Most people in the congregation and the town understand the position the congregation is in and it's quite a different situation from Mount Allison in terms of resources and our ability to undertake a project like this," Kelly-Spurles said.

Kelly-Spurles said the church just cannot afford to invest the $350,000 into the repairs.

"It's still structurally sound, but it's getting into some areas that really need attention so we had to make a decision whether or not to put the money into that kind of work on the church or making the decision to try to sell it and build a newer building," he said.