DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE
Old St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church is a one-storey plus lower level, wood-frame Carpenter Gothic church, clad in board-and-batten siding with a central square front tower, located on Carnarvon Street. It stands adjacent to the New St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, now the Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, near New Westminster's historic downtown core. This is the oldest extant building in the City of New Westminster and one of the oldest churches in the province.
Old St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church is associated with the earliest development of New Westminster. The city grew through successive economic waves that followed the founding of the city by the Royal Engineers as the colonial capital of the Mainland Colony of British Columbia in 1859. After the disbandment of the Royal Engineers in 1863, many of them stayed in New Westminster, building residences and institutions to support permanent settlement; this church was a direct result, and is the city's oldest extant structure. Old St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church is also significant for surviving the Great Fire of 1898 that devastated much of downtown New Westminster. The growing congregation necessitated the construction of a larger new church in 1888-89, and in 1922 the original church was raised and remodeled for use as a church hall and Sunday school, in memory of the parishioners who had fought in the First World War. The alterations compromised the original design, including removal of the tower parapets, but much of the original fabric of the structure was retained and survives to this day.
Opened on December 20, 1863, Old St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church is valued as the first Presbyterian Church to be built in the Mainland Colony of British Columbia, and as a link to the religious faith of many of the city's first settlers. Presbyterianism was the system of church government by representative assemblies called presbyteries, and was the name given to one of the groups of ecclesiastical bodies that represent the features of Protestantism emphasized by John Calvin, whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. The emigration of Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland throughout central and western Canada resulted in the establishment of numerous Presbyterian churches, seventy per cent of which joined the United Church of Canada when it was inaugurated in 1925.
Old St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church has architectural significance as a fine example of the ecclesiastical Carpenter Gothic style. The windows are particularly finely made and are a testament to the skill of the builder, A.H. Manson. The pulpit, now in the New Westminster Museum, was designed by architects Wright and Sanders, who had successful and prominent careers in Victoria and the Lower Mainland during the 1860s, and to whom the design of this church can be attributed .(Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster)