The congregation at First Street Gospel Hall moved to new facilities at 350 River Road on January 19, 2016. Although the Gospel Hall at 102 First Street NW has been our home since 1937, it was exciting to relocate to our newly renovated and expanded building.
The MTN building, constructed in 1986 and more recently known as the CFRY building was purchased by the congregation in May 2014. That began a major renovation inside of the 13,000 sq. ft. building to convert it from a TV station to a facility suitable for a local church. Deconstruction involved the removal of a telecommunications tower and probably miles of internal telecommunication wires. Small soundproofed offices have been removed to make way for a spacious foyer, kitchen and dining room, multipurpose area, Sunday School rooms and nursery space. The new auditorium is pretty much the size of the former recording studio. The heating and ventilating systems have been totally redone to meet current building codes for public assembly. Every aspect of handicap access has been addressed and an FM closed loop system for the hearing impaired is in place. The deconstruction work was handled through volunteers from the church, whereas the major work of reconstruction was contracted to Newton Enterprises.
The church first met in the home of a Mrs Crake on 5th Street NW dating back to 1904. In 1906 the fledgeling group moved from the Crake home into a rented room on the second level of a building on Saskatchewan Avenue. In 1907 they rented a second room in the same building to be used for Sunday School. Then, in the following year, they were once again on the move, still on Saskatchewan Avenue. This time it was the ground level of the McCullough Block where for the first time they had electric lights. About 1920 when numbers continued to increase the church was able to rent the Review Building on Tupper Street where they stayed until 1935. Then for one year, they used the Odd Fellows Hall which was across the street from the present Portage Credit Union.
The property at First Street NW and Lorne Avenue came up at a tax sale in 1936 and was purchased for $100, the old house was torn down and plans were drawn for a new gospel hall. Construction then proceeded during 1937. Much of the work was done by volunteers. It should be noted the excavation was with a team of horses and a “slusher”, and a great deal of earth was moved by hand with a pick and shovel. The cement was also mixed by hand. The total cost of the hall was about $7000. A balcony was added in the 1960s. Then in 1988, the entire building was lengthened by fourteen feet to provide extra space and a ground level entrance. Adjacent properties were acquired since 1991 to provide parking and potential for future development. Once plans were underway to relocate to River Road, the properties were sold to CHB Developments with final possession date to coincide with the church’s occupancy of the new building.
We understand that the physical premises are not as important as what actually happens within its walls and within the lives of its members. This local church exists to bring glory to God through public worship, the upbuilding of fellow believers in Christ and by presenting the good news of salvation to unbelievers. Three principles that guide us: Christ first! Scriptures only! Gospel always!
Visitors are always welcome. If you do not know Christ as your Saviour, we would like above all else that you find eternal life and lasting peace through faith in Him. If you are a believer, we would like to encourage your spiritual development and growth through Bible study, prayer and Christian fellowship.