“Growing in God’s Love for over 160 Years”
By 1854, the congregation of Knox Free Church at the corner of James and Cannon Streets in Hamilton had grown so rapidly that the Presbytery of Hamilton authorised the building of a new place of worship at the corner of MacNab and Hunter Streets, in the growing southern section of the city. A short time later, Dr. Calvin McQuesten, a local industrialist, arranged for the financing of the construction of the new building. In 1854, a wooden structure was erected on the newly acquired site. Although the building would seat between three and four hundred persons, it was necessary within the year to enlarge the facilities.
Scottish stonemasons constructed the second building, using stone quarried from the Hamilton “Mountain”. The foundation stone was laid in April 1856 by Isaac Buchanan. During the next twenty-five years two additional buildings were added to the site: a manse of local limestone in 1871 and a school building next to the church in 1878. The interior of the church remained unchanged until 1877, when modifications were required for the addition of the first organ.
After the First World War, an addition was made in the form of the present church parlour and kitchen. Each addition conformed to the general type of the early building, of which the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada has said: “It is remarkable for the simplicity and good proportion of the design. Its unknown architect was evidently a man possessing great skill and judgement to a greater extent than most of his confrères of that period.”
Although the depression of the early 1930’s meant difficult times, the interiors of both the church and Sunday School buildings were completely reconstructed: the floor of the church was lowered; the galleries were removed; a wide centre aisle was arranged with side aisles outside the massive columns which extended to the ceiling. From the ceiling were suspended lanterns designed in the form of Gothic incense burners concealing the electric lights and reflectors.
In 1934, a chancel was added to the south end of the sanctuary, and the present Casavant organ was installed, originally of two manuals but later enlarged to three. It retained some of the pipes from the original 1877 instrument. The organ was completely renovated in 2007.
In 1954 a new manse was purchased and the old manse was designed as a church house, intended to house the crowded church school as well as the church office.