Historic Truro church saved thanks to $1M fundraising campaign
First United Church wins National Trust competition, now planning for last repairs to century-old sanctuary
Truro is celebrating the salvation of a century-old church in the town's centre, thanks to a $1-million restoration from windows to steeple.
First United Church has stood on Prince Street in the Nova Scotia town for more than a century. But six years ago, church leaders learned it needed extensive work in order to stay open.
"As a minister in the church, I've always maintained that the church is not the building and we all agreed that's the truth — we can worship anywhere. It doesn't have to be in this facility," said Rev. Valerie Kingsbury.
"But we also realized that we are charged with being keepers of the stories and there's a rich history here."
The congregation decided to save the church, launching a $1-million capital campaign three years ago.
The 450 families who call First United home put in $700,000. They repaired the steeple and roof.
But then they got bad news about the windows.
Windows could blow in
"Ultimately, the structure is sound. The foundation is sound and all of those things," Kingsbury said.
"But the windows were deemed structurally unsound. The reality was if we had had a major windstorm, for example, or if we encountered something again like Hurricane Juan, that these windows would not withstand the wind and they would actually come inwards."
The church took part in the National Trust's This Place Matters competition, which uses crowdfunding to encourage people to raise money for heritage properties to earn a chance at the grand prize.
First United raised more than $100,000 and also won the $60,000 grand prize. National Trust representatives visited Truro on Friday to officially share the good news. The win plus other contributions helped the church reach its $1-million goal.
Passion for history
"It's exciting for us to know [that] others see and value the place of this structure in our community as much as we do. Perhaps those who value it as a historic structure don't have the same attachment that we do with it being historical and spiritual, but that's OK," Kingsbury said.
"[They're] people who I think have a passion about history and about the importance of us preserving who we are, in order for us to understand who we should become."
The National Trust presented the award at a Civic Park ceremony Friday evening. Kingsbury said the windows should be replaced by next year.
After that, the church should be fine for another century or two.