Not Easily Forgotten
This composition is a nostalgic heritage piece.
It’s not a park bench. The timber pew was from the James Street Baptist Church of 98 James South. The enormous church itself was built between 1878 and 1882 in Gothic Revival style but time, and perhaps minor earthquakes periodically occurring over a 132-year span, caused the landmark to become structurally unsafe despite the $3.2 million that had been spent on repairs.
In its last years, James Street Baptist was committed to providing community support for the needy and other urban center programming for the City of Hamilton.
When the church could no longer sustain itself and the downtown neighbourhoods, the edifice was vacated by 2010, for pending demolition. This pew sat outside the front entrance on James Street that year, as the seasons changed from summer to winter when I shot this in late January of 2011.
I never set foot inside the place but for all those decades of the church’s service to its surrounding communities, I can imagine the generations of people – even entire families, who may have sat on this seat from infancy to seniority.
In 2014, all but the Gothic Revival landmark’s portico had been taken down in order to make room for an adjoining $80-million high-rise condominium. The design is an interesting blend of old and contemporary architecture, giving the foundation new life for servicing the city. Forward we must go.