86-year-old church in downtown Vancouver closing for major upgrades

Jan 29 2019, 6:02 pm

The historic church at the northwest corner of the intersection of Burrard Street and Nelson Street in downtown Vancouver’s West End is closing its doors for about two years for a major renovation.

Designed by Twizel and Twizel and completed in 1933, St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church at 1022 Nelson Street has withstood the test of time, with its vast interior complete with a vaulted timber roof and multi-storey high French and Italian stained-glass windows.

The Sanctuary, the main area of the Neo-Gothic building, gives the church one of the largest church seating capacities in the city, with rows of pews that can sit as many as 1,200 people.

But the church is in need of a major upgrade to maintain its heritage value and structural integrity. This includes seismic upgrades, a new roof, new electrical systems, and some interior improvements.

St. Andrew's Wesley United Church 1022 Nelson Street Vancouver

St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church at 1022 Nelson Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

During the construction period, the congregation will be assembling at several rotating locations, such as nearby churches and hotel ballrooms. The temporary closure begins February 4, 2019.

Across the street, the adjacent 1911-built First Baptist Church is also expected to experience a years-long closure within the foreseeable future to allow for a seismic upgrade, restoration, and expansion as part of Westbank’s The Butterfly residential project, which is located on the church’s rear parking lot. The developer is offering close to $100 million in community amenity contributions, with approximately $22 million going towards the church renovation and expansion.

Further down Burrard Street at the intersection with West Georgia Street, Christ Church Cathedral recently completed a 20-year-long, $20-million renovation of its 1889-completed building.

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