This innovative ongoing project related to the Houses of Worship aims to find new uses for underused portions of the Houses of Worship (community uses or other). The main objective of this project is to determine an appropriate future for the Houses of Worship in Westmount. Each church or synagogue within the city has been inventoried and visited by members of the Local Heritage Council (LHC). A Value Statement (Statement of Significance) is crafted in collaboration with each congregation, to identify the heritage values and their associated character-defining elements (ex. woodwork, stained-glass windows, etc.). After this information gathering phase is ended, the LHC will provide recommendations to City Council for zoning changes to encourage community and revenue-generating uses, which will be complementary to the religious institution’s mission and acceptable to the surrounding community.
The Ascension of Our Lord, Westmount’s first English Catholic church, was constructed in 1928 on land purchased from the Grey Nuns. The architects of the neo-Gothic stone building were E.J. Turcotte, Magennis & Walsh of Boston.
Grace Baptist Church, constructed in brick in the neo-Romanesque style in 1893 on Western at Olivier, changed its name to Westmount Baptist Church in 1902. The De Maisonneuve premises was taken over by the Seventh Day Adventists. After 1972, Bethel Gospel Chapel occupied the building.
The Church of the Advent is Westmount’s oldest surviving religious building. It was begun as a mission of St. James the Apostle, opened in 1892 on Western at the corner of Wood. The neo-Gothic brick building by architects Cox and Amos was originally named the ‘Chapel of Ease’ by the High Anglican congregation. During the 1890s, it was twice enlarged. It is now occupied by the House of Prayer of All Nations.
Shaar Hashomayim, an Orthodox congregation, opened its doors on Côte St. Antoine Road at Kensington in 1922. Melville Miller was the architect, combining middle eastern domes with classical details. In 1967, a major expansion was undertaken. The Shaar is the oldest and largest Ashkenazi congregation in Canada.
The non-drinkers moved to Melville Church, a neo-Gothic brick building designed by Edward Maxwell, on Elgin Avenue (which was renamed Melville Avenue in its honour). The building was taken over by the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1976.
In 1914, the Dominion Methodist Church moved into a modest hall on Roslyn Avenue. Massive neo-Gothic Dominion Douglas United Church by American architects Badgley & Nicklas was constructed adjacent to the first building in 1927, after a merger with Douglas Methodist. In 1985 members of St. Andrew’s United and in 2004 members of Erskine and American Church joined the congregation. As a result of these amalgamations, the church was renamed Mountainside United Church.
In 1901 the first Catholic church in Westmount, Saint-Léon-de-Westmount, was constructed on farmland purchased from the Grey Nuns. Architect G.A. Monette designed in the neo-Romanesque style both the original and the radical alterations made to the exterior in 1920. Italian-born artist Guido Nincheri was responsible for the interior decorations begun in 1920. Saint-Léon’s interior was declared a National Heritage Site in 1997.
In 1875 Westmount’s first church, Anglican St. Matthias’, opened its doors. The white clapboard building stood above Côte St. Antoine Road at the corner of today’s Church Hill Avenue on land donated by Mrs. R.T. Raynes at the corner of her ‘Forden’ estate.
In 1912 the wooden church was replaced by a stone building designed by Ross & MacFarlane in the neo-Gothic style. The original structure continued to be used as a parish hall by the Anglican congregation for many years. A bell from the first church sits on the lawn today.
In 1911 Westmount’s Jewish community established its first synagogue, Temple Emanu-El on Sherbrooke Street at Elm. The founders were followers of Reform Judaism. The Byzantine Revival building by the firm Hutchison, Wood & Miller was destroyed by fire in 1957. It was completely rebuilt in 1960. Today it is the oldest Liberal Reform synagogue in Canada and it remains Montreal’s only reform synagogue.
Grace Baptist Church was established in Westmount in 1893 on Western at Olivier; it changed its name to Westmount Baptist Church in 1902. In 1925, the Westmount Baptist Church moved to a larger Beaux-Arts building designed by Sydney Comber on Sherbrooke at Roslyn.
Westmount Park United Church, designed by architect A. Leslie Perry and built of stone in the neo-Gothic style, took its place in 1929 after Church Union. In 1961 the congregation of Calvary Church joined, followed by that of Melville Presbyterian.
Stanley Presbyterian Church was constructed in brick on Westmount Avenue at Victoria in 1913. It was designed by Hutchison, Wood & Miller in the neo-Byzantine style featuring a dome and semi-circular arches. The Seventh Day Adventists have occupied the premises since 1972.