The St. Paul’s Church and Heritage House consist of a small Gothic Revival wooden church and a one and a half story, wood frame residence.
Built in 1931, the church was moved to its present location in 1949, where the house that would serve as the manse was already located. Before the restoration project began 16 years ago, the town had slated the buildings for demolition. In an advanced state of disrepair and severely undermined by water damage both buildings needed the foundations rebuilt, which required moving the structures then replacing them on the reconstructed base.
The Church played an important role in the development of McLennan, particularly in the growth of the community after the Second World War. In a bi-lingual town, St. Paul’s Church served as both a place of worship and a community centre for many Anglican residents and English speaking social organizations such as women, student and youth groups, church army officers and as a place for a variety of social gatherings.
Due to the dedication of the St. Paul’s Heritage House Preservation Committee, Heritage House now marking the 85th anniversary is a well-restored, excellent example of a 1930’s style house that was at one time, common in rural communities throughout Alberta. It is also one of the few houses remaining in McLennan, constructed prior to the WW2.
The interior also went through extensive restoration, removing layers of paint and worn out floor covering to reveal the original wood floors and the detail and craftsmanship of many of the fixtures.
Some of the distinguishing characteristics of the church are its crenulated parapet and louvered openings of the tower and an arched, gothic style door rebuilt in 2014 using the original designs. Another feature worthy of note is the stained glass windows, made in Montreal, and installed in 2010 by Fred Schellenberger the husband of High Praire Anglican minister Joan Schellenberger who is presently a minister in Olds. The stained glass windows cost $3000 each and the entire stained glass window project was paid for through donations.
The preservation committee started out with approximately 15 members, many of whom have passed away or moved, so now Norma Sobolewski and Alice MacMillan are keeping things going.
With the exception of a few grants, donations and fundraising, a significant portion of the funds used for the restoration and ongoing maintenance come from the annual summer-long garage sale at the Legion Hall, which the Legion has generously allowed the committee to use.
Heritage House is the property of The McLennan Railroad Museum and St. Paul’s, which is still a consecrated church, is the property of the Anglican Diocese of Athabasca -High Prairie Parish.
The house opened to the public in May 2015 and the Preservation Committee, which is still involved in the upkeep of the buildings has hosted a number of fundraising events such as strawberry tea, Christmas in November, and spring, summer and fall themed events celebrating the seasons.
In honour of St. Paul’s 85th anniversary, a service will be celebrated on August 21 at 2.30pm in the church followed by tea and cake in the manse house.
After 3 years without a priest, with the arrival of Fr. Leon Cadsap at the beginning of 2016, Mass is once again celebrated at St. Paul’s every 3rd Sunday of the Month. Fr. Leon, his wife Glory and their young daughter Hadassah arrived in the parish on January 13.
Anyone who has chance to visit the St. Paul’s Church and Heritage House should seize that opportunity to see firsthand the remarkable restoration work and to experience a tangible sense of local heritage and the gracefully restored place of worship.
Heritage House and St. Paul’s Anglican Church are located at the corner of 1st Street east and 2nd Avenue N. in McLennan.