St. John’s Stone Church, commonly referred to as “the stone church,” was recognized as a National Historic Site in 1987 for being an early and exceptional example of a Gothic Revival church in its Romantic phase in Canada.
Canada is home to over 800 national historic sites, with 58 of them located in New Brunswick and 13 within Saint John itself. These sites, primarily dating back to the nineteenth century, reflect the cultural roots that make Saint John distinct.
A key aspect of this culture is the loyalty to British heritage, which is evident in the Stone Church. In 1824, it was designated as a Garrison Church when the Lieutenant-Governor donated £600 to assist with construction costs. The military continues to use the church for special services, and its ties to England and the Church of England remain strong. The Linking Stone, a piece of Caen stone from the chancel of St. Andrew’s Church in Steyning, Sussex, England, connects St. John’s Church to its ancient British predecessors. The church still has a Garrison Officers’ Pew and displays the royal coat of arms on its balcony.
Built between 1823 and 1826 based on John Cunningham’s designs, St. John’s Stone Church represents the earliest phase of Gothic Revival in Canada— the Romantic Gothic Revival. This style bridges the gap between classical tradition and re-emerging Gothic architecture, featuring eighteenth-century classicism adorned with Gothic elements. St. John’s is an early embodiment of this style in the country.
The church also features a chancel, constructed in 1872 following designs by local architect Matthew Stead. This later addition adheres to a more historically accurate version of Gothic Revival, known as Ecclesiological Gothic Revival.
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