By Michael Walmsley
Church Street runs N-SE from Main Street East past Mountainview Avenue.
Travelling along Huntsville’s Church Street, one encounters numerous residential homes. What one does not find is a church. Not even one.
So, how did this residential route become known as Church Street?
Let’s begin our search for the answer way back when the town was a developing plan inside the head of one Captain George Hunt.
Now old Captain George was really big on temperance – to the point where he did not permit alcohol on “his side” of the river. This ultimately had the effect of the town’s main residential development occurring on the “other side” of the river where a hotel had been built and commercial growth had happened.
In 1884, Hunt, perhaps in some measure to ensure additional growth on the river’s eastern bank (George’s domain), donated some of his land for the erection of the First Presbyterian Church. Alas, by 1890 it was quite obvious that the church’s presence on what was then known as Church Street did nothing to deter the lopsided community growth on the river’s western side.
In 1894, the church’s trustees decided to dismantle the original church and reconstruct it in a more central location. Before this plan could be realized, however, a grass fire in 1896 destroyed the original building. During 1897-98 a new Presbyterian Church was erected on High Street (to the west of the river) and opened its doors on April 17, 1898. Thus, in accordance with George Hunt’s Plan of Subdivision filed on March 22, 1877, Huntsville was left with the lane without a church called Church Street.
See more Saturday Streetscapes here.
Michael Walmsley is a retired elementary school principal who resides in Huntsville. He enjoys looking at things with a bit of “outside-the-box” perspective and totally believes in living today with a hand on the past and an eye on the future. He has published articles in Kanawa and Adventure Kayak magazines and has recently published a book entitled The Joy of Kayaking – Including the Kayak Quiz.
During this past year, as president of the PROBUS Club of Muskoka North, he has written a weekly article to the club’s membership which has included a focus on Huntsville’s streets. These articles have been combined into book form which will be published in the summer of 2021.
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