When is a parking lot more than just a parking lot?

North Park street is a relatively short street. Only two blocks stretching from the intersection of Cogswell and going North toward the intersections of Cunard and Agricola streets. However, it’s a street with a lot of history. One spot along this road that has always intrigued me is the parking lot located on the corner of North Park street and a tiny little lane called Armoury Place which runs alongside the Halifax Armouries, formerly called John’s Lane.

Parking lot at the corner of North Park street and Armoury Place.

Parking lot at the corner of North Park street and Armoury Place.

In the above photo you can clearly see a granite stone wall that runs along the length of the parking lot. I notice these things when I walk around town and it always has me asking when is a parking lot more than just a parking lot?

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The North Baptist Church – Gottingen Street

Note: I was recently asked to become a regular contributor to the blog Spacing Atlantic. This is going to be the first in a series of posts that will be cross posted on both the Old North End and Spacing Atlantic blogs. Welcome to everyone who is visiting from SA for the first time. I hope that you find this project interesting and informative.

Photo from 50th Anniversary Pamphlet, 1898

The great thing about living in a city is that the streetscapes of busy streets are ever-changing. One such streetscape which has grown, decayed and is being rebuilt is that of the South end of Gottingen Street in Halifax. Driving down this part of Gottingen today you see construction taking place all over with new condo buildings replacing old movie theatres and shops. One building that stands out today is the large former Vogue movie theatre building prominently situated in the middle of the block between Falkland and Cornwallis streets. What people don’t know today is that this building which has been used in some form or another as a house of amusement – besides being a movie theatre it housed a community theatre, soft-core porn theatre, gay dance club and community centre and a boxing arena – it was originally a Baptist Church.

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The Religious North End

Churches of the North End (photo source: Halifax, Nova Scotia and its Attractions, Howard & Kutsche, ca. 1902).

The North End could be defined as a city of churches. In just a few city blocks from the mid-1860s to the early decades of the 20th century there were 15 places of worship. These institution provided their communities with places to socialize as well as places to worship for much of the late 19th century. Of the 15 churches that populated this neighbourhood only three are still in active service and today only one of the steeples towers over the buildings and shops below. As the inner city changed and populations moved further North, into the West End of Halifax and/or out into Armdale, Fairview and Rockingham these congregations suffered declining attendance and for the most part closed or relocated. Today we are seeing that same trend throughout the city’s churches giving proof to the suggestion that history repeats itself.  The churches of the North End:

The Church of the Holy Redeemer, Brunswick Street, ca. 1899 (NS Historic Places Initiative)

– Church of the Holy Redeemer, Universalist Unitarian Church, Brunswick Street – opened 1874 sold in the 1940s and converted to apartments in the 1980s.

– Saint Patrick’s, Roman Catholic Church, Brunswick Street – opened 1843.

– Saint George’s Round Church, Anglican, Brunswick Street – opened 1802.

– Brunswick Street Methodist Church, Brunswick Street – opened 1834.

– Little Dutch Church, Anglican, Brunswick Street – opened 1756.

– Presbyterian Church, Brunswick Street – opened, moved in 1917 to Windsor Street.

– Park Street Presbyterian Church, North Park Street – opened in 1880s, destroyed by fire 1940s.

– Cornwallis Baptist Church, Cornwallis Street  – opened 1840s.

– African Episcopalian Methodist Church, cor of Gottingen and Falkland Street – demolished 1950s.

– North Baptist Church, Gottingen Street – 1860s- ca. 1913.

Underneath Scotia Square, the Trade Mart Building and the Cogswell Interchange

Garrison Chapel, Brunswick Street, burned 1910 (NS Museum)

– Poplar Grove Presbyterian, Poplar Grove – 1793-1884 (relocated to North Park Street).

– Salem Chapel Baptist Church, Argyle Street – 1845.

– Chalmer’s Church, Presbyterian Duke and Barrington 1849-1905.

– Trinity Free Church, Jacob Street (congregation moved to Garrison Chapel in 1907).

– Garrison Chapel, corner of Cogswell and Brunswick Streets demolished in 2008/09.

Over the next few weeks and months we will highlight the history of each of these institutions and how the impacted the local community. The first church in our study will be the North Baptist Church which was located between Falkland and Cornwallis streets on Gottingen.