Jarvis Street Baptist Church – The Congregation Dates to 1829

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1907 – Looking east from Gerrard St E towards Jarvis Street Baptist Church on the northeast corner
1907 – Looking east from Gerrard St E towards Jarvis Street Baptist Church on the northeast corner (Toronto Public Library R-521)

Jarvis Street Baptist Church is located at 130 Gerrard St E (at Jarvis St on the northeast corner) in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto.

Built in 1874/75, architects Langley, Langley & Burke designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The structure was made from rough Queenston brownstone with Ohio stone dressings. Initially, the main entrance was through the impressive cater-cornered tower, which is decorated with gargoyles and polished granite pillars.

The amphitheatre-shaped interior was one of the first in Canada, with its gallery and groined arches supported on iron piers. The beautiful church could seat approximately 1,250 parishioners, and its first service was held in December 1875. The Jarvis Street Baptist Church cost $103,000 to construct, with $60,000 from the Honourable William McMaster. Mrs McMaster donated a 2,240-pipe organ valued at $8,000.

In March 1938, a 3-alarm fire gutted the church. First, the slate roof that featured ornamental green and red bands with iron cresting came clattering to the ground. Then, the slim spire crashed down onto the street. It could be heard for blocks.

Rebuilding on the same site began almost immediately, and during that time, parishioners attended services at Cooke’s Presbyterian Church and Massey Hall.

Architects Horwood & White, the successor firm to the church’s original architects, made significant design updates. A main entrance flanked by gargoyles was built on Jarvis St, a 13 m or 43 ft diameter rose window was fitted into the roof, the tower was topped with a new spire, and seating capacity was nearly doubled. A new organ and indirect lighting were also installed. Jarvis Street Baptist was the first church in the country to be built with a heat-sensitive fire alarm.

While the corner tower remains a focal point of Jarvis Street Baptist Church, other architectural highlights include double-wooden doors that feature a transom with quatrefoil and trefoil motifs, buttressed walls, narrow lancet windows and a steeply pitched roof. The rebuild was completed in May 1939.

The church building received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1973.

The congregation of Jarvis Street Baptist Church was established in 1829. Three years later, their first chapel was built on Lombard St and in 1848, they relocated to a church on Bond St. They moved to their present-day location in 1875.

Jarvis Street Baptist Church Photos

2020 - Jarvis Street Baptist Church is located at 130 Gerrard St E and Jarvis St on the northeast corner in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Jarvis Street Baptist Church is located at 130 Gerrard St E and Jarvis St on the northeast corner in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 – Looking northeast towards the Jarvis Street Baptist Church from the intersection of Gerrard St E and Jarvis St
1972 – Looking northeast towards the Jarvis Street Baptist Church from the intersection of Gerrard St E and Jarvis St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 1841, File 9, Item 2)
2020 – Looking southeast towards the Jarvis Street Baptist Church at 130 Gerrard St E. The Jarvis St entrance was added during a 1938/39 reconstruction
2020 – Looking southeast towards the Jarvis Street Baptist Church at 130 Gerrard St E. The Jarvis St entrance was added during a 1938/39 reconstruction
1950 – Looking southeast from Jarvis St towards Gerrard St E. The Jarvis Street Baptist Church was designed in the Gothic Revival style
1950 – Looking southeast from Jarvis St towards Gerrard St E. The Jarvis Street Baptist Church was designed in the Gothic Revival style (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, File 380, Item 230)
2021 - The spire at the Jarvis Street Baptist Church
2021 – The spire at the Jarvis Street Baptist Church
2020 – The cater-cornered tower of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church. It was once the main entrance of the church
2020 – The cater-cornered tower of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church. It was once the main entrance of the church
2022 – Looking northeast toward the Jarvis Street Baptist Church at 130 Gerrard St E. The church building received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1973
2022 – Looking northeast toward the Jarvis Street Baptist Church at 130 Gerrard St E. The church building received heritage status from the City of Toronto in 1973
1907 – Looking northeast from Gerrard St E towards Jarvis Street Baptist Church. Architects Langley, Langley & Burke designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The structure was made from rough Queenston brownstone with Ohio stone dressings
1907 – Looking northeast from Gerrard St E towards Jarvis Street Baptist Church. Architects Langley, Langley & Burke designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The structure was made from rough Queenston brownstone with Ohio stone dressings (Toronto Public Library R-521)
1882 – Jarvis Street Baptist Church on the northeast corner of Gerrard St E and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood
1882 – Jarvis Street Baptist Church on the northeast corner of Gerrard St E and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood (Toronto Public Library R-543)
Circa 1880 – Looking northwest along a dirt Gerrard St E towards Jarvis St. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church once had a slate roof with ornamental bands (which were red and green) and iron cresting
Circa 1880 – Looking northwest along a dirt Gerrard St E towards Jarvis St. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church once had a slate roof with ornamental bands (which were red and green) and iron cresting (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1441, Item 9)
2020 – The Jarvis Street Baptist Church tower entrance is decorated with gargoyles and polished granite pillars. Above the wooden doors is a transom with quatrefoil and trefoil motifs
2020 – The Jarvis Street Baptist Church tower entrance is decorated with gargoyles and polished granite pillars. Above the wooden doors is a transom with quatrefoil and trefoil motifs
2021 – Looking at the west façade and main entrance of Jarvis Street Baptist Church from Jarvis St, on the north side of Gerrard St E
2021 – Looking at the west façade and main entrance of Jarvis Street Baptist Church from Jarvis St, on the north side of Gerrard St E
2020 – The main entrance of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church. The congregation was established in 1829
2020 – The main entrance of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church. The congregation was established in 1829
2020 – Looking up toward the beautiful Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto
2020 – Looking up toward the beautiful Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto
2022 – Looking northeast along Gerrard St E towards Jarvis St in Toronto's Garden District
2022 – Looking northeast along Gerrard St E towards Jarvis St in Toronto’s Garden District
Sketch of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church on the northeast corner of Gerrard St E
Sketch of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church on the northeast corner of Gerrard St E (Landmarks of Toronto Volume 4 by J Ross Robertson – 1904)
Sketch of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church
Sketch of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church (Toronto: Past and Present by C Pelham Mulvany – 1884)
2021 - The heritage plaque reads:

Jarvis Street Baptist Church

“The congregation of this church was formally organized in 1829, with chapels on Lombard Street (1832) and Bond Street (1848). Growing membership necessitated a new building, and this Gothic Revival Church, designed by Edmund Burke, was begun in May 1874. Built of Queenston stone, it was one of the first in Canada to use a U-shaped galleried auditorium. The Jarvis Street Baptist Church was dedicated in December 1875 and has maintained an active Ministry in this area.”

Toronto Historical Board - 1975
2021 – The heritage plaque reads:

Jarvis Street Baptist Church

“The congregation of this church was formally organized in 1829, with chapels on Lombard Street (1832) and Bond Street (1848). Growing membership necessitated a new building, and this Gothic Revival Church, designed by Edmund Burke, was begun in May 1874. Built of Queenston stone, it was one of the first in Canada to use a U-shaped galleried auditorium. The Jarvis Street Baptist Church was dedicated in December 1875 and has maintained an active Ministry in this area.”

Toronto Historical Board – 1975
SOURCE
  • City of Toronto Heritage Register: 130 Gerrard St E
  • Ontario Heritage Trust: 130 Gerrard St E
  • Heritage Toronto plaque
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Dec 3, 1875, pg 4
  • The Globe Newspaper Archives: Mar 5, 1938, pgs 1, 15 & 26
  • The Toronto Daily Star Newspaper Archives: May 27, 1939, pg 29
  • Toronto: Past and Present by C Pelham Mulvany (1884), pgs 176-177
  • Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 4 by J Ross Robertson (1904), pgs 422-430
  • Toronto Architecture: A City Guide by Patricia McHugh and Alex Bozikovic (2017), pg 156
  • Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Toronto Public Library

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