This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archive curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day, as well as the story behind them.
The Parsonage – 40 Clapperton St.
In the pioneer days, clergy travelled from settlement to settlement, performing services, funerals, marriages, and baptisms in homes, barns or wherever people could gather to worship and have society with others.
Eventually, church communities petitioned the government for land to build their churches and burial grounds.
In the 1870s, Baptists began to organize in Barrie. With no building of their own in which to worship in, the first service of the early First Baptist Church was held in a Clapperton Street hall in 1876, with Rev. H.F. Griffin officiating.
The Toronto Association of Baptist Churches formally recognized the Barrie congregation in 1877. The group still did not have a home of their own, but had begun meeting in the new Loyal Orange Lodge hall, located at about 30 Clapperton St.
The young Baptist church had about 30 members and it received assistance from the Home Mission Board as the church developed.
In 1878, the First Baptist Church finally had their own building – a beautiful church designed by local plasterer and mason, George Brown, who had worked with builder George Ball on such high-profile projects as The Oaks (25 Valley Dr.) and the remodelling of the market building.
A year later, church membership stood at 94 and the congregation had acquired their first organ. The church continued to grow in numbers and was able to support mission work in nearby communities and in China.
By the time the First Baptist Church celebrated its golden anniversary, they were in a position to establish another Baptist congregation within the Town of Barrie. It was a truly bittersweet moment as it demonstrated the strength of their growth and success, but also the loss of congregation members to the new church.
Home to several First Baptist Church ministers was 40 Clapperton St., a lovely Gothic Revival-inspired dwelling at the corner of Clapperton and Worsley streets, right across from the church.
The shutters, fanciful veranda, finials and decorative entrance way that once distinguished the structure, now live in the past as the home adapted a more austere look over the years.