Architecture

James Street Baptist Church for Sale

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 07, 2012

In case you missed Jeff Mahoney's Spectator column last Friday, James Street Baptist Church at 98 James Street South between Jackson and Hunter is for sale, listed for a cool $1.1 million. Listing agent Maggie Steele of Heritage Realty held an open house today and RTH took the opportunity to look through and take a few photos.

James Street Baptist Church: yours for a cool $1.1 million
James Street Baptist Church: yours for a cool $1.1 million

Designed by Joseph Connolly (the only non-Catholic church he designed) and built between 1878 and 1882, this Gothic Revival-style church features a gorgeous rough hammer-dressed stone exterior with pink ionic columns and abundant stained glass.

Stonework detail
Stonework detail

Exterior column
Exterior column

Inside, the nave has a breathtaking 50 foot ceiling, framed by polished pink granite arcade columns, archways along either side and a transept near the back.

Main hall has a 50 foot ceiling
Main hall has a 50 foot ceiling

Another view of the main hall
Another view of the main hall

South side flanking arches and stained glass windows
South side flanking arches and stained glass windows

Interior column
Interior column

Tall stained glass window at front
Tall stained glass window at front

Some interior doorways feature stained glass mullion transoms
Some interior doorways feature stained glass mullion transoms

At the back of the chamber is a large wooden stage with curved steps and a huge organ, which might present challenges on where to put the Ikea sectional.

Church stage and organ
Church stage and organ

The building is zoned Institutional in the D2 Downtown Prime Retail Streets [PDF] section.

If you were hoping to pick it up and install a dropped tile ceiling with pot lights, note that the building has a municipal heritage designation as Hamilton's oldest surviving Baptist church.

Plaque
Plaque

With the inspiring musical outreach program overseen by the talented Christopher Claus, the departure of the vibrant James Street Baptist church community from 98 James South will be the city's loss (the church community is not folding but relocating to more affordable digs); but with the right imagination and investment, this building could remain a breathtaking addition to the city's cultural fabric.

Further Reading:

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By James (registered) | Posted August 08, 2012 at 08:59:55

Whatever happens to it, I hope the building remains there and that people can still go in to see that beautiful stained glass!

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By neighbour (registered) | Posted August 08, 2012 at 22:26:40

Why do we keep ripping down or moderizing our history. Its fine how it is . This is sad its for sale community needs to help save it.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted August 09, 2012 at 10:49:24 in reply to Comment 79615

Take a minute to read Jeff's column in the Spec from last week. It explains why it's for sale. These heritage buildings can be a beast in terms of maintenance and with dwindling membership, there's only so much that can be done.

I like the idea of it becoming a coffee shop in there - the acoustics in there must be great so grabbing a cup of joe and hearing some live music would be great!

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted August 10, 2012 at 16:17:18

Mahoney wrote:

"The congregation just recently finished paying off the $3.2 million it spent on repairs, upgrades and wheelchair accessibility 20 years ago."

On inflation alone, that bill would be $4.6 million today. Add 20 years' worth of code and see where it takes you.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted August 11, 2012 at 22:24:51

There is a very similarly constructed ex church in the area of Toronto I work in at Indian Rd and Grenadier Rd called The Abbey. It was converted to a condominium residence. Most if not all of the architectural features were preserved including stained glass in many of the suites. Frankly the conversion is spectacular and sadly this might be the only sensible reuse of the James St Church. It is a large space, well over 100 years old and the upkeep costs are not going to change and in fact will only increase for anyone buying the property. I don't think coffee shops, or music/theater venues will generate the type of cash flow required to keep such a building standing. However a well crafted condo conversion would not only save the structure, preserve an iconic Hamilton building, but also generate much needed tax revenue. http://www.torontolofts.ca/sold/abbey/20...

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2012-08-11 22:25:48

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted August 14, 2012 at 07:06:53 in reply to Comment 79665

Break it up into a few shared space businesses (we can make that work, it just takes some thinking outside of the box) and it wouldn't be that bad. Here's a thought: Coffee shop, music space, co-op grocery, and something else. Give 'em a bit of a tax break to cover the expenses and see how it goes.

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By norendr (anonymous) | Posted August 13, 2012 at 14:08:10

Agreed that condos make the most sense and in fact will add more life to the neighbourhood than a church does. Prime area too, YMCA, James S, downtown, GO ...

Would be nice to preserve main floor ambience for restaurant, live music, etc. ... weddings?

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By CGALS (anonymous) | Posted September 03, 2012 at 13:07:27

there are already way to many coffee shops in the immediate area. a church could buy it! there has been some great shows here. if i had the money i would buy and LIVE there while continuing to have shows, jam space, practice space, recording space, and a community outreach program.

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By Christ The Way Jacob (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2013 at 10:52:17

I wish I have the money to buy and preserve the house of prayer as it is in the outside with new seating arrangements inside and start a worship center for our Lord Jesus Christ in Truth and Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit comes there it will be packed again and the Lord shall supply all our needs to maintain the building and Christian Culture in down town Hamilton.
I promise it will be packed again with youths, this place of worship will soar on wings for it was not used for idolatry or witchcraft so it is a clean place. We serve a living God and He is able.

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