Knox building, completed in 1917, is our fourth building [our ‘new’building]. Massive in scale [the largest United Church in Manitoba] , built of reinforced concrete, steel and limestone, some 15,000 sq. feet for each floor. Its exterior is considered a great example of Late Gothic Revival architecture, designed by JHG Russell, Winnipeg’s pre-eminent Protestant church architect at the beginning of the 20th century. The exterior is classic Gothic revivalist, with powerful vertical lines, monochromatic surfaces, distinctive Gothic fenestration and towers, and subdued ornamentation. If the exterior is stereotypically 'masculine', the interior is very feminine and almost womb-like, with strong curved lines everywhere.
The church was designed from the beginning to be a multipurpose facility, to serve both congregation and community, incorporating a gymnasium, meeting spaces, and an ‘auditorium’ [the term used, rather than ‘sanctuary’] seating originally 1600 [now 1150] which features exceptional acoustics.
All of the religious symbolism is portable, allowing the space to be used by the community in a variety of ways as a performance venue.
Today the building serves as a true community hub – a gathering place for community groups and services, a place for feasting and fasting, for learning and doing, for praying and partying, a space that belongs as much to the neighbourhood as it does to the church.
The building is old, but in good repair. The heating system does clatter a bit, and we have way too many repairs than we can afford, but it has a clear mission – and it knows it! This building has a personality, has moods – it is happy when it is in use, when children are playing, groups are organizing, and people are praying. And it gets a bit down when it is too quiet here. It’s a bit quirky, to be sure, but there is a beauty and spirit here that is infectious.