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The following articles appeared on page 2 of the 22 Aug 1862 and 29 Aug 1862 issues of The Norfolk Reformer newspaper. The first describes the new building under construction, the second recounts the corner stone laying ceremony. 

The building described below replaced the burned out frame building that previously stood in the same location. It stood from 1862 until it too was destroyed by fire in 1896. It was replaced with a third building which is still standing on the same location at the southwest corner of Colborne and Stanley streets in Simcoe. Today it is called St. James United Church.

The New Wesleyan Methodist Church in Simcoe

The site of this building, the corner stone of which will be laid to-day, is the spot on which stood the old frame church belonging to the same denomination. The architecture will be of a composite character, known as the Norman Gothic—a chaste and elegant style, well adapted to church edifices.

The length of the structure will be 70 feet, by a breadth of 50 feet. The basement will be 11 feet in height, and the greatest elevation of the main audience room will be 27 feet. 

In both apartments there will be open pews. Those in the principal chamber will, with the two galleries—intended to run the full length of the building, and to be supported by iron columns — be capable of accommodating about 700 persons. The pulpit will be placed at the west end, and opposite there will be a gallery for the choir.
There will be three entrances to the church from the front—a centre doorway communication with the main body, and two smaller doorways leading to the galleries.
The vestibule is reached by ascending a flight of five steps on the exterior of the building. There [are] eight other steps to the main audience room. The basement is not, therefore, what the basement is found to be in many other churches—little better than a deep, dark cellar, but a light, large, airy room, not far below the ground surface. 

There will be 15 windows in the church proper—three in front and six on either side. Between each of those in the sides there will be diminished buttresses.

The material of which the edifice is being constructed is the red brick manufactured in the neighborhood. There will, however, be cut stone-work round the doors and windows in the front, which will be still further embellished by two octagon turrets, sixty feet high from the ground, and roofed with colored slate.
The contractor for the whole of the work is Mr. M. W. Hoyt, of Brantford and the subcontractor for the masonry is Mr. Chas. Sears, of the same town. Mr. John Turner, also of Brantford, is the architect. The contract price of the work is $5,825.
The building is to be delivered up completed early next summer; but it is confidently expected that the basement will be sufficiently finished this autumn to allow meetings being held within it. The brick work of the sides and the west end is already on a level with the floor of the audience chamber; but the workmen have been obliged to leave the front until after the ceremony of laying the corner stone.
The New Wesleyan Church
Laying the Corner Stone

When making his tour of Canada and the United States, Mr. William Chambers was favorably and forcibly struck by the Architectural beauty, the enduring solidity, and the internal comfort of the public edifices set apart for Divine Worship. 

At that time the more advanced rural districts were just venturing on the third and most substantial style of building. The log-houses had passed away, and the frame-structures by which they were succeeded were in their turn giving place to handsome blocks and squares of brick and stone. 

Eight years have intervened, and in our own county stately mansions have arisen on all the main avenues, with commodious churches at convenient intervals. Simultaneously with the pulling down of old barns and the building of greater has been witnessed the removal of old meeting houses, and the substitution of buildings more ecclesiastical in form and comeliness, and better adapted to the increased wants of the community.

The new church in Simcoe, the cornerstone of which was laid on Thursday last, has become a public necessity. The accommodation provided for the Wesleyan Methodists of years ago is found altogether too limited for the Wesleyan Methodists of to-day. And the walls are going up of an edifice broad enough and long enough not only for present purposes, but for the probable requirements of the members of the Methodist denomination for nearly a generation to come. 

In last week’s paper we gave a description of the intended building; we now confine ourselves to an account of the ceremony connected with the laying of the corner-stone.

The morning dawned dark and gloomy. It rained a little, and threatened a good deal. But towards noon the clouds broke, and at two o’clock, the appointed hour for the event of the day, the sun shone with the required warmth to flavor the ice-creams and to give a test and a briskness to the ginger beer. 

Seats were provided for the ladies in front of the stone. The speakers were placed on a not over strong platform, as they afterwards found by its sudden giving way—a mishap which we are happy to say, was followed by the comfortable assurance that there was “nobody hurt.” 

Of first-class music, both vocal and instrumental, there was no lack, the Port Dover Band being present, as well as the excellent choir of the church, strengthened by the addition of singers from other churches in the town. The concourse of people were large beyond expectation.

Mrs. John B. Carpenter, on whom, as the wife of the largest contributor, the manual exercises of the day devolved, was accompanied to the site by a committee of ladies. A suitable hymn having been sung:--

“Thou, who hast to Zion laid
The true foundation stone”—
The bottle intended to be deposited in the cavity beneath the stone was produced and its contents stated by the Rev. J. Preston, minister of the church. Besides the papers published in the town, there had been placed in the bottle a copy of each of the Toronto dailies and of the Christian Guardian, besides the minutes of the last meeting of Conference, the statistics of the church in Simcoe, and the names of the subscribers to the building fund. 

We learnt from the papers that the Wesleyan Conference in Canada numbers 487 ministers 48,281 full members, and 5,283 on trial, making a total of 53, 564. The members of the Wesleyan Church in Simcoe numbers 178. 

Before the bottle was sealed, Mr. Preston called upon those who had not subscribed and who intended to do so to send in their names that they might be added to the legion of honor intended to go down to we don’t know how many generations. 

The appeal was most liberally responded to, and we are bound to say that our Methodist friends made the most of their opportunity. The contributions at last ceased to flow; the bottle was closed; it went to its dark resting place; and the stone was placed over it in due form—Mrs. Carpenter superintending and assisting in the work as a master mason who understands the business should do. The Rev. W. Pollard of Brantford, then offered up an impressive prayer, and afterwards delivered a very able address.

Tea was served in an extensive booth extemporized for the occasion, at half-past four o’clock. Three double rows of seats with tables between ran the full length of the structure (110 feet), and on one side were stands for the speakers and for the band and choir. 

The trays had been provided gratuitously by the friends of the church, and a most ample and excellent provision was made. About 500 persons took tea. After tea there were speeches and music. 

D. W. Freeman, Esq., was appointed chairman, and addresses were delivered by Rev. W. W. Clarke, Rev. J. E. Ryerson, D.D., 
Rev. Mr. Freeman, Rev L. Barber, Rev. T. Jeffers, Rev. S. Harris, 
Rev. W. S. Griffin, and Mr. Garnet Milner. Votes of thanks were given to the band, to the choir, to the ladies, to the subscribers, to the speakers, and to the chairman.

As we stated last week, the estimated cost of the church is $5,825. The various sums subscribed on Thursday, with the receipts arising from the tea meeting, amounted to $127.72; of which however, $207 remain unpaid. The total of the amounts promised, including the “paid up capital,” is nearly $1,000. We hope that Mr. Preston, the faithful minister, who has been so zealous in pushing forward the undertaking, will be rewarded for his exertions by seeing the building not only early completed, but, what is far better, when completed, entirely free from debt.

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Copyright 2006-2012 John Cardiff