The fine looking church we’ll be discussing here is located in the old Calgary community of Bridgeland and is just over a century old. In fantastic shape given its age, over the years it has served two separate Christian based faiths. We’ll look at the building twice, first in the 1950s via an old photo sent to use by a reader of this website, and then again how it appears today.
Built in 1912/1913 for a Moravian assembly, it served that group until 1945 when a Lutheran congregation moved in (from another church nearby, which they outgrew). A dated cornerstone on the building honours that changeover. At that same time the church’s name was changed to Jehovah Lutheran, before finally becoming St Matthew (or St Matthew’s) Lutheran in 1960.
The building has a rather interesting cross, lit at night by neon.
St Matthew was constructed in the Gothic Revival style, a design philosophy rather broad in scope that was popular at the time and for many decades prior, especially so for places of faith. Elements generally common to the style include arched windows, often of varying size, and of course tall spires or steeples. This building is recognized historically.
The old house seen on the left in both photos appears to have changed little over the years. It’s clad in that broken glass stucco so popular in the old days. The old Calgary General Hospital (with the curved facade) can be seen in the back in the then photo. It was built in the 1940s and 50s and demolished in the 1990s. Also seen in behind is the steeple of another church, but no information on it has been found by this author.
Bridgeland as a community was founded around 1910, and is located just northeast of Calgary’s downtown core, right across the Bow River. Early on it was called GermanTown, based on the many people from that region that lived in the neighbourhood. There are a surprising number of churches in the immediate area.
The original photo dates from 1955, while our’s was taken on a wonderful very un-winter like day in March 2015, so almost exactly 60 years later.
There are two old late 40s/early 50s era cars seen in the then photo but their small size makes it a bit hard to identify what make and model they are.
The Moravian Faith is a branch of Protestantism and dates from the 1700s. It is was founded and therefor most heavily practiced, in eastern Europe. Lutheranism, also an offshoot of Protestant Christianity, dates form the 1500s and has origins in central Europe. Of the two, the Lutheran Church, has a much larger member base overall but ideology wise, very broadly speaking and based only on my very brief study of both, they seem to be similar in more ways than not.
As is always the case, our now picture was lined up in camera and no post production trickery was used to help things match up. That’s the way we roll. You’ll notice the church looks larger in the old photo, when compared to ours, even though we shot from near exactly the same spot. This probably stems from an atmospheric distortion problem or that we did not match the focal length used in the old photo, as well as we could have.
The then photo was sent to us by the Calgary Public Library and is used with permission. It’s from the Alison Jackson collection, which they maintain. A prolific photographer of Calgary’s historic buildings, during the 50s, 60s and 70s, we’ve used her work before in other then and now articles.
If you have a vintage photo, showing a street scene or old building much what is seen here, that you’d like us to use in a then and now post, please don’t hesitate to send it to us. The image must be your copyright or in the public domain. We’ll revisit the location seen in it and shoot a today version of the same photo. We love doing this.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: March, 2015.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Article sources: Book: Historic Walks of Calgary, church members.
Everything seen here is publicly accessible