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Future uncertain for Saint John's historic Gothic Arches
The future of an historic Saint John church is uncertain as concerns are raised about the state of the building.
Built on one of the highest points in the city, the Gothic Arches has been a landmark in Saint John’s south end for more than 140 years.
“It dominates that neighbourhood and it’s such a rich piece of architecture in terms of the stonework, the stained glass, the character of the place,” says architect Bob Boyce.
But time has ravaged the long-vacant stone church, and it’s causing concern for some residents.
“One of my big worries is that, in the wintertime like this, with blowing gusts and snow and sleet and hail, there’s constantly sheets from the ceiling, from the roof blowing off, and I’m worried about them hitting people or hitting cars,” says Judith Meinert, who lives next to the Gothic Arches.
The church is on the city’s list of dangerous and vacant buildings, which means it’s prioritized for formal enforcement by the city.
Many Maritime communities are looking for ways to breathe new life into old churches, and it’s no different in Saint John. Down the street from the Gothic Arches, the old Cornerstone Baptist Church has been converted into an events centre.
“As soon as I saw it I knew that we could transform it into something very beautiful and unique and something new for the city to have to offer,” says Natasha Tobias, a wedding and events planner.
There’s hope a similar transformation could take place at the Gothic Arches.
“Old buildings, particularly old ones like that, would be a huge loss as a landmark in the top of the hill in uptown Saint John, so I’m concerned and I’m hoping something comes together soon,” says Boyce.
Meinert, however, admits she’s skeptical a new purpose could be found for the Gothic Arches, and feels it’s best to tear it down.
“Right now I’m probably realistic enough to say that that’s not going to happen, so before something terrible happens, I would like to see it come down and that whole corner, that whole half a block redeveloped,” she says.
The Gothic Arches is currently listed for $500,000.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Lyall