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Excerpt from report, THE LANDMARK OF THE ST. JOSEPHS KINGSBRIDGE COMMUNITY IS WORTH PRESERVING. This report is an Architectural Evaluation done by the the "Preservation Works!" program of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario
The Church at Kingsbridge, Ontario
is a fine example of
Gothic Revival Architecture in the
Ashfield, Colborne, Wawanosh area.
Its architectural vocabulary and architectural reality
make it an excellent candidate
for continued adaptive reuse and historic preservation
by the St. Josephs Kingsbridge Community.
ORIGINAL GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE
The Original Gothic Architecture started to be expressed in cathedrals built in the Twelfth Century (1100’s) and the Thirteenth Century (1200’s) in Western Europe and England.
Gothic Architecture is characterized by pointed or lancet arches, tall slender masonry walls supporting ribbed masonry vaults, tall slender walls stabilized by external masonry flying buttresses, and the gradual reduction of solid walls into thin masonry walls richly decorated with ornate patterns of window geometry that became known as fenestration. The goals of Gothic Architecture were to build stone cathedrals that reached upward toward the sky and heavens above letting sunlight from the heavens penetrate and fill the cathedral’s interior.
The advancements in glass making at the time fed the desire to link the Cathedral’s interior to the heavens above and vice versa through massive windows that had to be subdivided structurally and aesthetically to hold small pieces of glass. The technology of the glass making in the late 1100’s and early 1200’s only provided small pieces of glass which has to be held in place with lead set into intricate patterns of stone mullions set into stone frames. The Geometric patterns of stone mullions, which subdivided massive window fenestration became known as tracery.
The quests and achievements of Gothic Architecture toward the tallest, the thinnest and the most ornate continued in Western Europe and England until the Sixteenth Century (1500’s) when its popularity was surpassed by the classical forms of the Renaissance Period.
GOTHIC REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE
As people immigrated to North America over time, they brought with them many aspects of European and British cultural expression. This included the architectural expression of religion.
During the eighteenth century (1700’s) and the nineteenth century (1800’s), people across Canada and the Unites States revived the original Gothic architecture for churches and places of worship. This architectural revival became known as Gothic Revival or Gothic Survival.
Although North Americans also built churches and cathedrals out of stone, wood framed and brick construction became historically popular. Window fenestration and window tracery became became wood frames holding leaded glass windows instead of stone frames.
The North American Gothic Revival Architecture never became quite as tall, quite as thin, or quite as ornate as its original Gothic ancestors, although the architectural expression of our Gothic Revival Architecture never strayed far from the original Gothic characteristics.
The Steeple at Kingsbridge consists of a tall slender eight (8) sided roof assembly, known as a broached spire, on top of a four (4) story high four (4) sided square brick base.
The square plan of the brick base is geometrically transformed into the octagonal roof spire by the use of four (4) tall slender pyramidal broaches set above the base’s four corners.
An additional geometric transformation occurs as the outer corners of the pyramidal broaches and the eaves of the octagonal roof spire are curved and flared outward, this type of eave is known as a bellcast.
The elegant way geometry has been transformed and shaped from a square into a octagon is a true testament to the master skills of the tradespeople who built this Steeple.
The roof spire is ringed by four (4) louvred dormers, that face north, south, east, and west, as well as ventilating the roof spire these lourves let the sound of the Steeple’s bell toll out to the surrounding farmland.
The corners of the Steeple’s four (4) story square brick base are stabilized by pairs of projecting stepped brick pilasters that echo the larger exterior stone buttresses that stabilize the walls of the Original Gothic Cathedrals.
The architectural elegance of Kingsbridge’s Steeple as it reaches skyward is a local landmark noticeable for miles throughout the surrounding agricultural farmland. This landmark represents and respects the aspirations and achievements of past generations,
the hopes of current generations, and should be preserved as a valuable historic continuity from past, to present, and future generations.