. wesley methodist church


1911

1315 7 Street SW

 

     The Second Methodist Church was first organized in Calgary in 1906. A leader in its founding was the Reverend G.W. Kerby, Pastor of Central Methodist Church. Nellie McClung lived just down the street and was a church member.

     Wesley Methodist was initially built in 1906 and expanded two years later. Even enlarged, the building proved to be too small. So inn 1911 a fund was started for a lager building. Senator James A. Lougheed, Public Works Minister William H. Cushing, and future Prime Minister R.B. Bennett were early contibutors. On December 17, 1911 the existing Tuscan styled building was dedicated.

     As early as 1909, the congregation had contemplated amalgamating with nearby Grace Presbyterian Church. The two congregations sometimes held joint services when the minister of one went on vacation. In 1925, Wesley Methodist and some Calary Presbyterian churches merged with other Protestant denominations into the new United Church of Canada. Grace Presbyterian declined to join, remaining as "Continuing Presbyterians".

     The building is a good example of plain Methodist design, its details being somewhat classicised with round arched and simplified Palladian windows. A decorated cornice tops the square corner tower. An addition was added to the auditorium in 1903, a gallery was added to the sanctuary volume in 1930, and the building was expanded to the rear in 1956.

     The inner-city church declined in membership as post war families moved to the suburbs. It was finally desanctified and closed in 2003. The building then housed the Jubilee Christian Fellowship.

     Calgary Opera acquired and renovated the building to accommodate a 3,200 square-foot rehearsalo hall and performance space along with studios, wardrobe space and headquarters offices. On the second floor, the group also operates community education and outreach programs. On the lower level, the company maintains a warm-up area, dressing rooms, the wardrobe shop, and prop strorage.

     The centre is also used to support Calgary's Emerging Artist Development Program.

     The former Wesley Methodist Church has now been repurposed, renovated and renamed the Arrata Opera Centre. It is a vital and vibrant part of  Beltline's participation in arts and culture in Calgary.

 

 . to offer comments, corrections or improvements to this article, email heritage@beltline.ca .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front doors