By MURRAY CRAWFORD
The designation of a century old Red Deer church as a provincial historic resource will provide much needed funding to upgrade some worn and torn parts of the aging building.
St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 4929 54 St., is now eligible to receive matching grant funding up to $100,000. Previously as a municipal historic resource, the church was only eligible to receive $50,000.
Janet Pennington, City of Red Deer heritage community development co-ordinator, said Wednesday the church has received grant funding from the provincial government in the past for such projects as work on the main church door and the repair and repointing of the exterior chimneys.
Now the church is turning its focus to repairing the roof and fixing the foundation, which will require more provincial grant money.
With the designation, St. Luke’s is now one of three sites in Red Deer that have the provincial historic designation, the other two being the Old Court House and the Canadian Pacific Railway Station.
“Once it becomes a full provincial site it has a better level of protection,” said Pennington, adding any major changes to the building will have to be approved by the minister of Culture and Community Spirit, which is currently Edmonton-Glenora MLA Heather Klimchuk.
“That means the potential for it to be knocked down is very unlikely to ever happen.”
Klimchuk made the announcement on Oct. 1 saying the church was an early and excellent example of Gothic Revival.
Pennington, who has worked with the church on the grant applications, said because it is a place a faith they are also able to plead financial hardship when filing their grant applications, so rather than a 50-50 split on cost, the church can apply for a 25-75 cost split, with the province paying the larger portion.
In 2009, the Alberta government eliminated grants for registered provincial historic resource status and reviewed each site on that list, which included St. Luke’s. That same year the church applied for status as a City of Red Deer Municipal Historic Resource, which was approved.
Since that time the city has been working with the church to receive designation as a full provincial resource.
“It really sends a message out to everybody that the City of Red Deer is really into preserving our heritage,” said Pennington.
The first rector of the parish, Rev. Joshua Hinchcliffe was also a trained architect and he drew up plans for the church. He was named the rector in 1899 and the church opened its doors on Nov. 4, 1900. One part of the church’s battlement was designed by Red Deer architect Julian Sharman.
“It’s a beautiful building, we don’t want to lose it,” said Pennington. “I think in Red Deer it is one of only a couple of buildings that are left that are actually built using sandstone blocks that were quarried in Red Deer.”
St. Luke’s was one of three sites submitted in Red Deer for the designation as a provincial historic resource, but the other two, Allen Bungalow and North Cottage School, didn’t qualify for full provincial status Pennington said.