- In 1912, the Methodist congregation of Athabasca coordinated construction of the church building at a cost of $14,000.
- The structure is beautiful Gothic architecture with a bell tower.
- The church plan included seating for 300 people with an adjacent Sunday school section that could accommodate 150 more with a view of the pulpit.
- The upstairs also housed a ladies parlour, two classrooms and a minister’s vestry.
- The basement housed a men’s club, which could be turned into a “splendid dining room” for 125 people, gymnasium, shower, cloakroom and kitchen.
- Lighting was by natural gas lamps.
- Two balconies were included in the original drawings but were not built.
- Athabasca United Church building escaped the fire that swept through downtown Athabasca in August 1913.
- It is believed that the church is the largest wooden frame structure still in daily use in Northern Alberta.
- In 1925, Methodists joined with the Congregationalists and 70% of the Presbyterian denominations to establish the United Church of Canada.
- The building has been used continuously for 104 years.
May 18, 1913 – original dedication
August 5, 1913 – downtown Athabasca fire
May 31, 1985 – designated a Provincial Historic Resource
May 18, 1986 – building rededication
May 18, 2013 – centennial celebration (100 years)
- In 1985, deficiencies in the struts and weight-bearing beams had caused the walls to move away from the roof and a major renovation was undertaken.
- The walls were pulled back into squares using steel cables and the roof was stabilized with steel beams.
- Many discoveries were made during the restoration process. An 1882 embossed leather bible in prime condition was found, the brass fixtures for the natural gas lighting were discovered and a hidden stairway leading from the minister’s study to the basement was uncovered.
- From 2012 to 2015, renewal continued with exterior repairs and the addition of accessibility features, including a front ramp, inside lift and accessible washroom. The kitchen was renovated and a dishwasher added from 2016 to 2017.
COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY
- With phenomenal acoustics, the building has been the centre for many concerts and community events.
- The church has always been a meeting place for many community groups. Current users include: AA, Al Anon, Women’s Willingness into Sobriety, TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), Athabasca Community Handbell Ringers, Brownies and Girl Guides.