Donnerstag, 8. Juni 2017

The congregation and buildings of “Robson Memorial Methodist Church”

Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Robson
Archives Vancouver
Reference Code:
AM54-S4-: Port P1698.1
The congregation of what was later known as “Robson Memorial Methodist Church” had its early beginnings in the year 1902 when Reverend Ebenezer Robson had started a Sunday School in the Schoolhouse that was located on E 20th and Kingsway. [i].

Ebenezer Robson had been one of the first Methodist Missionaries along the West-Coast and had been a minister in New Westminster as early as 1863[ii]. He was born in Ontario and arrived in BC in 1859 as one of four Methodist ministers.[iii]

He was in his late 60s when he started the Sunday School in Cedar Cottage. Soon in the same year (1902) a congregation started to form and was probably called “Epworth Methodist Church”, named after the street-car station located close to the School-House. (It must not be mixed up with Epworth Methodist Church, that existed earlier and closed down after 5 years of existence!

Robson Memorial Methodist Church (1906)
Archives Vancouver
Ref.Code: AM1376-: CVA 330-9
The congregation continued to meet in the school until 1906 and in August 1907 the church building was opened and it was decided to call it “Robson Memorial Methodist Church”. [v] It was designed by the Architect Thomas Hooper.[vi] South Vancouver building permits show, that in 1913 the church was extended. [iv]. The cornerstone of this church building can still be seen on the grounds of 1573 E18th Avenue.[vii]
On Dec. 30th (?) 1921 great parts of the church building were destroyed in a fire. In the months to follow the congregation met at the Cedar Cottage Theater, while the burned church building was reconstructed to serve as a church hall and community center.[viii] In March 1922 the congregation moved back into the re-constructed building and was holding church services in the church hall until sufficient funds were collected for a new church building and construction had been finished.

Fire Damage to Robson Memorial Methodist Church
Archives Vancouver
Ref. Code: AM1506-S1-: CVA 447-41
I believe that one reason for the consideration of a new church building was, that the old building had reached its limits. The congregation counted about 200 members in 1922[ix] and might have outgrown the old building. The aim to build a new church might have already been in place, before the fire occurred, yet so far the only source recording the plan of a new building stems from the context with the reconstruction of the fire-damaged building.[x]
This re-constructed and altered building stood on 1573 E18th Avenue until the year 1966 when it was taken down by the members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. At that time the building had been severely run down and beyond feasible repair.
On the lot of 1553 E 18th Avenue a residential building was erected. The building was used as Parsonage. According to the pictures accessible to me, the building must have been erected between 1907 (building not present on pictures yet)[xi] and 1921/22 (building can be seen in the background of the fire-damaged church)[xii].

[vii] For the original church building no building permit was issued. South Vancouver District first started to issue building permits in 1911. – Information according to Heritage Vancouver, Patrick Gunn.
[viii] See articles in the Vancouver Daily World on Feb. 4th 1922, Feb. 11th 1922, March 25th 1922 and March 30th 1922.
[ix] See Article in the Vancouver Daily World on Feb. 11th 1922.
[x] See Article in the Vancouver Daily World on Feb. 4th 1922 and Feb. 11th 1922.
[xi] See picture from City of Vancouver Archives: CVA 330-9: May, 1908: Exterior of Robson Memorial Methodist Church -
Additional information: AM1376-: CVA 330-7and AM1376-: CVA 330-8 show the interior of the church. 
[xii] See picture from City of Vancouver Archives: CVA 447-41: Fire damage to Robson Memorial Methodist Church, 1305 East 18 Avenue, 1920s.

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