Westminster United Church History
The soaring spire of Westminster United Church has been a landmark on the main street of Orangeville since 1879. One of its main advantages is its central location at the western edge of downtown, easily accessible to all within town. Designed by Guelph architect Cornelius J. Soule, who also designed the county buildings on nearby Zina Street, the building was constructed of local materials – brick from town brickyards and stone from the quarries of Hockley Valley. The work was contracted out to Orangeville builders Hugh Haley, carpenter/contractor and Robert Hewitt, bricklayer and stone mason. The architects original list of specifications, right down to the paint colours to be used on the decorations outside, are in the church archives.
Some of the original glass from the first windows survives in the tops of the large bishop’s eye windows and lancet windows on the east and west landings.
While the church building is a landmark of local significance, and has been given a plaque by the Local Architectural Conservations Advisory Committee, it is home to a bright, involved active congregation bearing God’s witness in the community.
Today’s congregation is the descendent of some of Orangeville and district’s earliest Christian endeavours. The Presbyterians formed a congregation in 1837 under the leadership of Rev. Alexander Lewis. The Methodists while receiving the services of missionaries and “saddle-bag preachers,” did not organize a local congregation until 1849. From these two early churches, three more developed. From 1858, there were two Presbyterian churches and three Methodist churches in the village. In 1880, old Bethel and new Zion Presbyterian united to form Saint Andrew’s church, and moved into the building we now call Westminster. In 1884, the Methodist churches joined together and worshipped as Orangeville Methodist Church at 6 First Avenue.
Click here to look at our Windows Into Our Past booklet.