Press release

Halifax, NS (May 3, 2022) –  St. Matthew's United Church has issued a public call for ideas to redevelop its property at 1479 Barrington Street, Halifax.

Launching its #ImagineStMattsLegacy campaign, the congregation of the historic downtown church wants to hear interesting ideas for a legacy development that will serve the public good in downtown Halifax for many years to come. 

Ideas, dreams and expressions of interest can be submitted to
Suggestions received by May 18, 2022 will help inform the direction of our legacy work.

The active congregation still provides important outreach programs for people who are homeless or at-risk, but Rev. Betsy Hogan says it is time to take action on the church's long-term future. The congregation is interested in facilitating a redevelopment project that would:
•    serve the public good
•    be a positive legacy to Halifax
•    incorporate the historic sanctuary building
•    be self-sustaining

"We see this as a way of giving back to the people of Halifax," Hogan notes. "Our hope is that we can help make a creative project possible that will serve the public good and be a positive contribution to the downtown core."

Ideas that have already been proposed include housing for people with special needs or disabilities, a Museum of Halifax, and a downtown arts complex with community space. The congregation hopes that potential partners, particularly those involved in social enterprises and not-for-profit organizations, will come forward with suggestions and creative proposals.

For its part, the congregation is prepared to discuss offering its land for long-term use, and using its own resources to restore and eco-retrofit the sanctuary, which was built in the 1850s.

In addition to the sanctuary, the property has a 1960s-era gymnasium and sits between the Maritime Centre and the Lieutenant Governor's residence. The buildings are in the Barrington Street Heritage Conservation District and have a municipal heritage designation. Given growing concern about the loss of Halifax's heritage, the congregation hopes that redevelopment can incorporate the sanctuary.

St. Matthew's traces its origins to the founding of Halifax in 1749. After the original church, Mathers Meeting Hall on Hollis Street, was destroyed by fire in 1857, the congregation purchased land on Barrington Street from Archbishop Hibbert Binney and built a new sanctuary, which opened in 1859. The church survived the Halifax Explosion, played a seminal role in providing entertainment, ministry, and comfort to Canadian troops during the Second World War, and has in recent years focused its efforts on downtown outreach.

In addition to offering a free Sunday breakfast, the church is home to the Emergency Warming Shelter, Halifax Circus, addiction recovery groups, and is a popular concert venue. 

Further information is available on the church's website:

Media Contact:  Rev. Betsy Hogan at (902) 489-4739 or email