Carleton signs deal to buy Dominion-Chalmers

Carleton University has completed its purchase of Dominion-Chalmers United Church on Cooper Street.

University plans to use downtown church as a concert venue, lecture space

Dominion-Chalmers United Church at the corner of O'Connor and Cooper streets has become a popular venue for musical performances, but its congregation has declined dramatically in recent years. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

Carleton University has officially bought Dominion-Chalmers United Church on Cooper Street.

The university had been eyeing the historic downtown church, which has long been used as a space for events such as Chamberfest and the Ottawa Jazz Festival.

The school's interim president said it will be a valuable concert and event venue for the university, which has no space with more than 400 seats.

The church can seat approximately 1,000 people.

"Our purchase of Dominion-Chalmers United Church is perfectly aligned with the university's mission to play a central role in the cultural life of Ottawa,"  said Alastair Summerlee in a news release.

"It's a unique solution that allows the church to maintain its historic presence downtown and a gathering place for its congregation."

The school did not disclose the purchase price, but Summerlee has previously told CBC that the building was appraised at between $7 million and $8 million.

The school said they were helped in the purchase by donors and a $5 million contribution from the province's infrastructure ministry.

More than 100 years old

The sale ends concerns about what would happen to the building as the congregation has shrunk in size over the years, from approximately 2,000 people in the 1960s to between 80 to 100 people in 2016.

"For several years now we have been facing a future where we would not be able to keep up this historic building," said church council chair David Hayman in a news release.

"This is a sale that is good for the future of the congregation. It is also good for Carleton University and for the people of Ottawa."

Carleton said inspections show the building is in generally good shape.

It said it will do some renovations to create recording spaces and make it more attractive to potential renters.

Construction began over 100 years ago in 1912, with the first service taking place in 1914.