The unique name of Fort Massey Church recalls the early years of the garrison town when there was a blockhouse on the site. The fort was named after General Eyre Massey who was commander-in-chief at Halifax from 1776-1780.
Fort Massey Church opened in 1871. The Scottish architect, David Stirling, made skillful use of Gothic designs with more than a dozen window shapes and sizes and numerous versions of decorative window tracery. Inside there are richly-carved ceiling braces supported by hammer-beams, ornamental kings’ heads and bands of trefoil arches punctuated by protruding, small winged creatures which gaze down into the nave below. The interior was refurbished in 1993, and work on the exterior of the began in 2001. The church hall and gymnasium were added in 1898. The three manual Casavant organ, installed in 1913, was played by television’s first lady of the organ, Diane Bish (Joy of Music) in 1997 to a full house!
From the Halifax Reporter, 1871:
“The interior . . . has almost a cathedral appearance. In form and style there is nothing like it in Nova Scotia.”
From the Canadian Illustrated News, 1873:
“. . . one of the most handsome specimens of Gothic architecture to be met in the Dominion.”
Fort Massey Church was originally a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Along with most other Presbyterian congregations, the congregation of Fort Massey joined the Methodists and Congregationalists in the union of The United Church of Canada in 1925. Over the years many notable Haligonians worshipped at Fort Massey including Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables) and Anna Leonowens (Governess to the King of Siam’s children) worshipped at Fort Massey while living in Halifax. Today, the congregation consists of neighbouring residents as well as people from throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality.