Ladner Baptist Church

5008 47A Avenue
Delta, BC

Built: 1902-1903

The Ladner Baptist Church is an early twentieth-century, wood-frame church, now adapted for institutional purposes, distinguished by its Gothic Revival detailing and square corner tower with spire. It is located at the corner of 47A Avenue and Delta Street, within the Ladner Village area of Delta.

Status: Still Standing

Ladner Baptist Church - 2005
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Local people still think of this as the Ladner Baptist Church, even though it has not been used for worship since 1969. In that year a new church building was erected on Ladner Trunk Road, using a great deal of volunteer labour under the supervision of a qualified builder.

The building we see here was constructed by much the same method in 1902. William Black was the builder in charge of the project, and the labour was probably entirely voluntary. The local newspaper, reporting on construction progress, advised that "the Baptists here don't believe in church debts and when the money in hand is exhausted the work will stop." Donations from the congregation must have been forthcoming, as the building was completed and dedicated in April 1902. Incidently, the church was one of Bill Black's last contracts, for he died of diphtheria in November of the same year.

The ateeples was not added until a decade later. Work on the tower started in November 1912, but bad weather put a stop to construction. Completion of the steeple in June of the following year "added considerable dignity to the structure." When the carved hand that pointed skyward at the top of the steeple was added is unknown. What has happened to it is equally a mystery.

There does not appear to have been a parsonage here until 1945 when the congregation purchased a small house and had it moved onto the lot behind the church.

The hurch building itself was purchased about 1972 from the Baptist Church Society by Dr. Louis Kanee and Dr. Norman Gregory. Dr. Gregory and his wife leased the building out to various groups and organizations requiring a classroom setting.

The first group to make this former church its home was a collection of fives arts/crafts people who turned it into the Delta Arts Centre in 1973. Only minor alterations to the interior were carried out at this time.

In 1975 a new roof was put on and the interior was converted into a school by creation of classroom space for the Delta Child Development Centre. For much of the 1980s, it was the home of the Delta Association for Handicapped Children, who operated a school for handicapped children and a daycare centre. Typically, as an organization has outgrown its space, it has had to find new accommodation. In the early 1990s Providence Day Care was the tenant, followed by the Montessori school.

This church is another example of "adaptive re-use" on a street where we have already seen several other examples - the Fawcett, Thirkle, and Handford houses. Here again we have working proof that heritage buildings can have a long life if people with imagination and flexibility think about and work on ways of retaining such buildings.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of Ladner Baptist Church include its:

  • original corner location
  • ecclesiastical form, scale and massing as expressed by its regular rectangular plan with crawlspace, square corner tower, front gabled roof with closed eaves and wooden tongue-and-groove soffits, and early rear additions with lower gabled roof and shed roof
  • wood-frame construction with horizontal wooden drop siding and cornerboards; vertical wooden drop siding at foundation; bargeboards with crown mouldings; and band of diagonal v-jointed wooden siding on tower
  • Gothic Revival influence, exemplified by the pointed-arch windows and openings; simple, intersecting tracery in the front entry transom and large, front elevation window
  • other exterior architectural features such as the square corner tower with bell-cast spire and scroll-cut eave brackets; double-door main entrance into sanctuary at tower base; louvered vents in the belfry; and internal red-brick chimney with corbelled cap
  • double-hung wooden sash windows with horizontal muntins, and coloured glass flashing
  • interior features including: an open floor plan; lofty ceiling with sloped sides and flat ceiling; wooden window trim and sills; wooden cap moulding detail on exterior walls; and original wall finishes underneath later drywall