Christ Church Cathedral Memorial Hall

 

 


Designed in August of 1923 by John Charles Malcolm Keith, the start of construction on the Hall began later that year with the corner stone laid on October 1, 1923. A consolatory commission to the Cathedral itself (designed in the 1890’s but not started until 1926) the Hall was built as a memorial to the many parishioners who were lost in WWI. Its construction was completed in 1924, the first of the four significant buildings on the cathedral precinct. 

The Hall was originally intended for use as a church hall and designed to be eventually connected to the cathedral itself. This vision was not however realized. In 1989, Christ Church Cathedral School was formed and took residence in the building with major though sensitive renovation work to the original historic structure. 

Located on the corner of Vancouver Street and Rockland Avenue, the Christ Church Cathedral Memorial Hall is a fine example of Gothic Revival ecclesiastical architecture. The two story building is finished with buttresses defining the elevation bays, steep gable roofs and steeple as well as the subtle detailing of the depressed pointed arches reflecting a late gothic style that is prevalent with the adjacent cathedral of which this building was fully intended to compliment. ( John Dam – Building Conservation Engineer – Building Condition Assessment 2015)

Heritage Masonry were contracted to replace the outer weather arch mold at the front entrance of the school that was 100 years old and had been badly affected by exposure.  The existing was too badly damaged to save and a replacement was needed.  When we quoted the job the exact stone used originally was not available so I was in the process of finding the best and most appropriate alternate when I became aware of Tom at BC Marble who is quarrying and cutting Gabriola Island Sandstone.  We were obviously thrilled from a conservation/restoration perspective to be able to put in what we had taken out and we purchased 8 large blocks from Tom that our Lead Foreman Phillip Young hand shaped with saws, grinders, chisels and rubbing stones into the individual sections of replacement arch.

As you can see from the pictures, the match is remarkable considering the time and weather that separates them.  We had noticed that the lettering on the lower arch was faded and lacked definition due to its age and exposure to the elements.  We are so passionate about this type of work that we approached the school to ask if we could donate our time and materials to them and go further and re-scribe the gold inlay. 

At this stage we consulted John Dam and Simone Vogel-Horridge, the fine arts conservationist expert, to assess what had been used originally.  I was busy trying to source real gold leaf and Phil was keen to use this application again (rare opportunity) but it was established from the experts that gold leaf was not appropriate due to stone porosity and weather exposure and it was most likely a gold paint and so that is what we re-applied after a careful day spent re-defining the lettering with delicate stone chisels.