Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer History The cornerstone of the Church of the Redeemer was laid by lumber-baron Hugo Burghardt Rathbun (1812-1886) in 1881. It was formally opened on January 21, 1883. The Rathbun family ran Deseronto as a one company town and were closely involved with the Presbyterian church from its earliest days. Hugo’s son, Edward Wilkes Rathbun, took charge of the Sunday School in the 1860s. So close was the Rathbun link with the church, that on the west side of their former mansion at 313 Dundas Street, a two-storey bay window lighting two principle rooms, gave a direct view of the church front entrance across the landscaped estate (there were no other buildings on the east side of St. George Street until the mid-20th century). The Rathbuns also arranged excursions for the Sunday School, such as steamer trips. Until 1868, there had been no church building in the village. In that year, a shared building was constructed in St. George Street, where Anglicans worshipped in the morning, Presbyterians in the afternoon, and Methodists in the evening. At that time, the Presbyterians formed part of the Napanee congregation, overseen by the Reverend John Scott. The Mill Point Presbyterians did not gain their own minister until 1876, when the Reverend Robert John Craig was appointed to the mission station in the village. By May 1878 the church roll listed 59 members and 46 adherents. Among them was the new wife of the minister: Gertrude, the younger sister of Edward Wilkes Rathbun. Mill Point was renamed Deseronto in 1881, the year in which construction began on the new Presbyterian church. The older frame building which had been the shared church was moved to Mill Street, where it was used as the Presbyterian church hall and Sunday School for many years. Architecture The present church was designed and built by James Burgess in the Gothic Revival style (please see insert on this style). It is constructed of limestone, with a 48 foot tower topped, originally, by a 65 foot spire. The original cedar roof shingles were painted to look like slate. The seating is arranged amphitheatre style with curved pews and the floor sloping down to the pulpit and organ. This was popular in late-19th century Presbyterian churches as, prior to electric amplification, it facilitated a style of worship that emphasized the spoken word. The extensive interior woodwork has striking alternating layers of cherry and white and the pews are attributed to Gibbards Furniture in Napanee (at its closure in 2010 it was Canada’s oldest furniture manufacturer). It is interesting to note that the Rathbuns produced pews as advertised in a catalogue of their company’s finished wood products which also included stair rails, doors and windows (catalogue in Deseronto Archives collection).

(Click on the image above for a closer look.)

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Presbyterian Church of the
Redeemer

History

The cornerstone of the Church of the Redeemer was laid by lumber-baron Hugo Burghardt Rathbun (1812-1886) in 1881. It was formally opened on January 21, 1883. The Rathbun family ran Deseronto as a one company town and were closely involved with the Presbyterian church from its earliest days. Hugo’s son, Edward Wilkes Rathbun, took charge of the Sunday School in the 1860s.

So close was the Rathbun link with the church, that on the west side of their former mansion at 313 Dundas Street, a two-storey bay window lighting two principle rooms, gave a direct view of the church front entrance across the landscaped estate (there were no other buildings on the east side of St. George Street until the mid-20th century). The Rathbuns also arranged excursions for the Sunday School, such as steamer trips.

Until 1868, there had been no church building in the village. In that year, a shared building was constructed in St. George Street, where Anglicans worshipped in the morning, Presbyterians in the afternoon, and Methodists in the evening.

At that time, the Presbyterians formed part of the Napanee congregation, overseen by the Reverend John Scott. The Mill Point Presbyterians did not gain their own minister until 1876, when the Reverend Robert John Craig was appointed to the mission station in the village. By May 1878 the church roll listed 59 members and 46 adherents. Among them was the new wife of the minister: Gertrude, the younger sister of Edward Wilkes Rathbun.

Mill Point was renamed Deseronto in 1881, the year in which construction began on the new Presbyterian church. The older frame building which had been the shared church was moved to Mill Street, where it was used as the Presbyterian church hall and Sunday School for many years.

Architecture

The present church was designed and built by James Burgess in the Gothic Revival style (please see insert on this style). It is constructed of limestone, with a 48 foot tower topped, originally, by a 65 foot spire. The original cedar roof shingles were painted to look like slate. The seating is arranged amphitheatre style with curved pews and the floor sloping down to the pulpit and organ. This was popular in late-19th century Presbyterian churches as, prior to electric amplification, it facilitated a style of worship that emphasized the spoken word.

The extensive interior woodwork has striking alternating layers of cherry and white and the pews are attributed to Gibbards Furniture in Napanee (at its closure in 2010 it was Canada’s oldest furniture manufacturer). It is interesting to note that the Rathbuns produced pews as advertised in a catalogue of their company’s finished wood products which also included stair rails, doors and windows (catalogue in Deseronto Archives collection).

Gothic Revival Style

This style was inspired by buildings from medieval Europe. Initially introduced in Canada in the 1820s-1830s , the style persisted across Canada for over a century, especially in religious architecture. Identified by features such as the pointed arch for door and window openings, buttresses and pinnacles, the style evolved through various stages: the rational phase promoted by a group of British theologians known as the Ecclesiologists; the High Victorian Gothic phase, which sanctioned polychromy, asymmetry, texture and picturesque effects; and the beaux-arts phase, which witnessed a return to symmetry and monumentality.

Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer
In this Presbyterian church one again sees the core feature of the Gothic Revival style—the pointed arches of the doors and windows and asymmetrical tower, but also stepped corner buttresses supporting the tower and dormer windows on the expansive roof. The exuberant original spire with its dramatic corner pinnacles does not seem to follow precedent from the British Isles but instead from medieval precedent in Southern Germany and what now is the Czech Republic, particularly Prague. The polygonal space at the west (rear) of the building is in keeping with Gothic treatment for a chancel or apsidal end, even though it is separated from the interior of the liturgical space.