Friends of St. Giles

Hamilton’s St. Giles church is an architectural gem — and it’s at risk.

Stewart & Witton’s historic 1912 church is threatened by a proposed UPRC/New Vision United Church development at 85 Holton Ave. S.

Joint Statement with ACO Hamilton

Two heritage advocacy groups, ACO Hamilton and the Friends of St. Giles, respond to UPRC’s latest proposals for the century-old Gibson landmark.

Destroying history and culture is not the way forward. We call on the developer and owners to respect the local community and Hamilton’s rich history, and keep St. Giles standing. There are better, greener solutions, and better ways forward.

Any new development at 85 Holton Ave. must respect local history and culture by preserving and adaptively reusing the original 1912 St. Giles church building as part of its plan.

June 17th, 2021

What People Say

“We need to preserve Hamilton’s architecture and history, buildings such as this one is what makes Hamilton such a special city. Instead of knocking it down let’s find solutions for how it can serve the community in a new way!”

St. Giles & Gibson Neighbourhood

St. Giles church has been a part of the local community for over 100 years. There is no need to demolish it.

With adaptive re-use, this lovely building can continue to serve the community — and future generations of Hamiltonians.

As a city, we have an exciting opportunity before us to incorporate this irreplaceable gem into future developments — including as affordable housing!

The Architecture of St. Giles

St. Giles Church was designed by prominent architects Stewart & Witton, who also designed the Herkimer Apartments, the Playhouse Cinema, the James Street Armoury, and many other beloved and important Hamilton landmarks.

We have already lost too much of Stewart & Witton’s work to demolition. Through our 150th anniversary celebration, we aim to inspire Hamilton to cherish and preserve the remaining architectural gems that they designed for our city — including St. Giles.

Sustainability & Adaptive Reuse

The goals of climate justice and social justice are not at odds. We can no longer ignore the crucial links between environmental conservation and architectural conservation.

As ACO Hamilton President Shannon Kyles writes, “Destroying St. Giles is not ‘sustainability.’ The greenest building is the one that is already there.” 

Learn more about the strong environmental case for adaptive reuse from Jennifer O’Connor, President of the Athena Sustainable materials Institute, in her TEDx talk: Save buildings, fight climate change.

St. Giles & World War I

Did you know that St. Giles is a World War I church? Completed just before the war, its cairn bears the name of architect and early congregant W.W. Stewart, who died at Vimy Ridge. The church’s first pastor was a war hero at that same battle, and later advocated for remembrance.

The Friends of St. Giles are saddened to report that, while the building has been left abandoned, the War Memorial outside the church has been vandalized. Contact your councillor or Hamilton City Bylaw enforcement if you’d like to see the War Memorial preserved and protected.

Letter to Council

Read our letter to Mayor Eisenberger and Hamilton City Council, where we expressed our hope and willingness to work together with all parties involved to:

“Arrive at creative solutions that allow us to preserve this truly irreplaceable heritage building while incorporating it into affordable housing.”

The Friends of St. Giles, April 13th, 2021

Read more about the community-led effort to #SaveStGiles

The neighbourhood, the local community, the Friends of St. Giles, and the 2,500 people who have signed our petition don’t want to lose this building — it still has so much life left in it.

Future Uncertain

“The plan to knock down the structure angered local advocates, who argue it has historic value and want it incorporated into any new development.”

Emma Prestwich,
Broadview Magazine

New Proposals

“Indwell executive director Jeff Neven told The Spectator Wednesday the agency has ‘reached out’ to New Vision to offer expertise and explore any prospect for partnering on a reuse of the existing church.”

Matthew Van Dongen,
The Hamilton Spectator

Neighbours Hope

“’You can’t replace this.’ Visiting St. Giles, Walter Furlan is struck by the fine workmanship. ‘The embodied energy in this thing, it’s unbelievable. It’s all been built, why not use it?’”

Walter Furlan,
Furlan Conservation

Saving St. Giles

“Designation in the core, demolition in the east: What justifies climate action downtown, but not elsewhere? Who gets to keep their beautiful buildings? Whose history matters?”

Dr. Sarah Sheehan,
Friends of St. Giles