An article by Chris & Connie.
The lovely old church seen here, St Andrew’s United, is just over a century old and is the subject for this then and now study. Located in the community of Lacombe, in central Alberta, the substantial and very handsome building will be seen twice, first how it appeared in the early days via an old photo found online and again how it looks in 2015.
St Andrew’s was built back around 1909. Originally a Presbyterian Church, in the 1920s that group across Canada amalgamated with those of the Methodist faith and some other smaller groups of similar belief, forming the United Church of Canada who still uses the facility today. United is the largest Protestant group in the country today.
The building is constructed of brown brick and is made in a Gothic Revival style, a popular architectural form from that era, especially so for stately institutions and places of worship. Impressive steeples or spires are an often seen design element. Dramatic arched windows are another.
The original photo was sourced by us. It’s not clear when it was taken, but one can assume probably fairly early on in the building’s history. Certainly before the early 1920s, as it’s still listed as a Presbyterian Church, which as you recall was a group that ceased to be after that time.
The building looks much as it did back when the original photo was captured. There has been a change to the front entrance way and there is that big addition in back. Even so, it still retains much of its original appearance and overall character. For some reason it looks wider in our photo, but this could be attributed to differences in something like the aspect ratio or focal length used today verses then. The street seen in front in the old image, as was common for the day, is unpaved.
The church has been given historical designation on a municipal level recently and is one of many, many old and interesting buildings in Lacombe. The location is just north of downtown.
Saint Andrew or Andrew the Apostle was an early disciple of Christ. He’s the patron of fishermen and of Scotland and Russia.
Lacombe is a small city (only recently acquiring that title) located just north of the city of Red Deer. Founded in the 1890s, today it has population of perhaps eleven thousand people and some change (when the “then” photo was shot, it was in the hundreds). As mentioned, it has a very historic downtown which we hope to revisit sometime soon to explore in greater depth.
To the best of our knowledge the old image is in the public domain. We don’t know anything about it, like who shot it and so on, but it does appear to be a postcard or perhaps a commercial or promotional trading image of some sort.
We always have so much fun shooting these types of reports. We love them! If you have an old photo like the one seen here, one that is yours or no longer under copyright, that you think would make great fodder for a BIGDoer then and now, by all means send away. It need only shows an historic building, street or similar scene or something like that. We’ll visit where it was shot and will do our best to duplicate the scene.
When composing the now photo, we do all the work, like lining things up, in camera only. That’s how we do it, using a rather ugly and sloppy but clearly effective grid reference technique we’ve developed over the years. It’s dirty but it works!
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: July, 2015.
Location: Lacombe, AB.
Article references: Town of Lacombe, United Church archives.
The building can be viewed and photographed from public property.