St. Mark's Cultural Programming Space

St. Mark's timeline

1877 - St. Mark’s was built as an Anglican church, located at 130 Bay Street South at the southwest corner of Bay Street South and Hunter Street West.

1878 - The church had its first service.

1989 - St. Mark’s Anglican Church closed after serving the community for more than 100 years.

1994 - The City purchased the property with the intent to conserve the church and create open parkland space for the Durand neighbourhood. St. Mark’s remained vacant and over the years, the building deteriorated.

1995 - The property was designated by By-law 95-13 under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.

1995 to 2011 - The City completed several studies and reports related to St. Mark’s condition, conservation and potential adaptive re-use options.

2011 to 2012 - Stabilization of St. Mark’s started in 2011 and continued into 2012 with capital funds approved by Council in 2010.

May 2012 - Council directed a feasibility study for the operation of St. Mark’s as a cultural programming space that would be administered by the staff of Whitehern Historic House & Garden.

June 2014 - The City hosted a public open house for citizens to review presentation materials that showed the potential look and feel of a restored St. Mark’s property.

2014 - Staff presented the feasibility study to Council and was directed to issue a non-binding Request for Proposal (RFP) for the St. Mark's facility.

2015 - The non-binding RFP is scheduled to be issued in late 2015.

The City’s Tourism and Culture Division manages 17 heritage properties (many with multiple buildings/ structures). Seven of these heritage properties operate as civic museums.

St. Mark’s, as a proposed extension of Whitehern Historic House and Garden, could offer cultural programming that is consistent with the programming currently offered by Hamilton’s Civic Museums.

This includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Curriculum-based educational programs – suitable for elementary and secondary school students, as well as community groups such as Scouts and Guides;
  • Cultural events – live music concerts, poetry and book readings, film screenings, story-telling, community theatre;
  • Workshops – art classes, lectures, quilting bees;
  • Exhibitions – travelling heritage exhibits, garden tours, multicultural fairs; and,
  • Social and corporate rentals (indoor and outdoor) – small wedding ceremonies and receptions, birthday parties, retirement celebrations, business conferences, community meetings.

Whitehern Historic House & Garden is one of seven Hamilton Civic Museums. Prominently situated in a walled, terraced garden, Whitehern is an outstanding example of a mid-19th century urban estate originally owned by wealthy industrialist, Dr. Calvin McQuesten.

The house today has a multi-layered character that reflects the alterations made by three generations of the McQuesten family. It contains elements from many time periods including Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian.

With family possessions dating up to 1939 (when Dr. McQuesten’s grandson became the Honorable Thomas B. McQuesten, Minister of Highways), the house is restored to a time when Thomas was at the height of his influence – just after opening Canada’s first modern highway, the Queen Elizabeth Way.

This National Historic Site provides a unique opportunity to study culture, society and the evolution of domestic technology in Canada in the years following Confederation to the eve of WWII when the refinements of a bygone era were about to disappear forever.

Interactive and engaging programs have been designed to address specific expectations in the Ontario Curriculum. Various strands and topics in the Science and Technology, Art, Health and Social Studies curricula are addressed in a unique learning environment. Whitehern is located at 41 Jackson Street West and is only a five minute walk from St. Mark’s.

The connection between Whitehern & St. Mark's

Whitehern Historic House & Garden annually welcomes approximately 13,000 visitors that participate in educational programs, special events, and social, corporate and community functions.

This civic museum is popular but it lacks sufficient space to accommodate its existing and growing needs.

The refurbished Stable at Whitehern has only 525 square feet (49 square metres) of usable space. And this has limited Whitehern staff’s ability to host large school groups and administer social and corporate rentals.

To get around this problem, Whitehern occasionally rents space within local churches to allow staff to accommodate larger school groups. But this is not an ideal situation due to planning and logistics issues.

In the 2012 season, Whitehern lost 12 potential wedding rental opportunities as a result of facility limitations. It did not have enough space to accommodate wedding receptions that would be equal in size to the current seating capacity of its garden ceremonies.

Access to St. Mark’s as a supplementary cultural programming space could allow Whitehern to seize additional educational, cultural and community based rental opportunities.

Site concepts


As directed by Council, the goal of this project is to create an in-house study that outlines the feasibility of using St. Mark’s as a facility for cultural programming that would be administered by the staff of Whitehern Historic House & Garden.

This feasibility study will inform Council’s decision regarding the future of St. Mark’s.

Selected Reports

  • Report CS10064 – St. Mark's Church - Future Use of the Property, 130 Bay St. South, Hamilton, Ontario (Ward 2)
  • Report PED12059 – Status and Next Steps - St. Mark's Church (Ward 2)
  • Report PED12059(a) – St. Mark’s Feasibility Study (Ward 2) 

Other Resources