A Brief History of Port Hope United Church
Rev. Thomas Whitehead, an early Methodist circuit rider, began visiting Port Hope in 1813, holding services in parlours and commercial spaces including a hotel. The early preachers travelled on horseback, carrying a bible and a few personal possessions in their leather saddlebags. By the 1830’s they used an old and leaky log schoolhouse on Walton Street.
Clearly a new permanent church was needed. A building campaign was launched in 1833. John David Smith, an Anglican, gave land at the corner of Brown and South Streets. In 1835 a new frame building was dedicated. It boasted a steeple in the middle, an unusual feature for Methodist churches. Inside there was a gallery around three sides, with the choir sitting in the south end. Continued growth altered the appearance as a number of additions were made.
The congregation’s growing requirements prompted the purchase of the present property in 1870. Architectural plans had already been completed when the frame church burned on an August morning in 1874. The congregation met in the Music Hall on Walton street while the new edifice was built. At its dedication in 1875, 1500 people filled the pews. In 1925, 125 Unionist Presbyterians and their minister walked to the Methodist church to form the United Church. 1956 saw the remodelling of the Sunday School to accommodate the hundreds of children and young people attending.
The celebration of our Bicentennial in 2013 gave us an opportunity to think how we as a congregation can live and proclaim a faith which responds to the needs of the 21st century.
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Click here for some of the history of Port Hope.