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140-year-old downtown Winnipeg church on brink of collapse

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Parishioners at Holy Trinity Anglican Church are praying for a monetary miracle, as their historic place of worship could collapse at any moment.

The 140-year-old church is located at 256 Smith St., and stands proudly in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. Its now-crumbling foundation is believed to have been erected around 1883.

While Holy Trinity has outlasted other establishments built from the same model, the risk of reducing itself to rubble remains high.

“It’s kind of a miracle that it hasn't fallen down yet, but it will,” said Sandra Bender, Holy Trinity’s people’s warden and music ministry coordinator.

Bender said it can take anywhere from six months to three years for the church to collapse.

The interior of Holy Trinity Anglican Church on May 26, 2024. (Alexandra Holyk/CTV News Winnipeg)

In 1990, Holy Trinity was designated as a national historic site. Its gothic-style architecture features stained glass windows, original woodwork and a pipe organ that echoes through the sanctuary.

Bender said Holy Trinity’s congregation hopes demolition isn’t in the cards for the church.

“Our main hope is that someone with a lot more money than we have will come and fix the building to the tune of $7.2 million,” she said.

The hefty price tag is required to repair the building’s fragile foundation. The congregation has asked the Bishop of Rupert’s Land to put the church up for sale, “but our hope and our directive from our bishop is to find a buyer that will allow us to maintain it as a worship space,” Bender said.

The restoration process would take approximately five years.

“Whether or not we find a buyer, the congregation will be leaving the space sooner rather than later,” said Bender. “If we find a buyer and construction goes on, they will have to find somewhere else to meet. If the building falls over of its own accord or is declared unsafe, they will have to find somewhere else to meet.”

At this point, Bender said Holy Trinity is not actively looking for rental spaces or buyers, but one option churchgoers are exploring includes amalgamating with another parish “that finds itself in similar financial straits.”

There is also interest in partnering with community organizations and corporate entities to keep the community space afloat.

“If someone had an interest in in the property and an interest in preserving it so that the congregation can still live out what it feels as its calling in this neighbourhood, that would be ideal,” Bender said.

The interior of Holy Trinity Anglican Church on May 26, 2024. (Alexandra Holyk/CTV News Winnipeg)

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