Friends of The Spire: Proof that a small group can make a big difference

We love our clients and like to promote the great work they do in our city. We became involved with Friends of The Spire in 2017 and are delighted to share with you the success the group has had in renovating and reinvigorating a welcoming (and affordable!) space for nonprofits and community groups in Kingston.

Where do nonprofit organizations and community groups find affordable and safe space for assembly, celebration, reflection and social action?

For some, that place is The Spire. And Friends of The Spire – a dedicated small group of tireless individuals – are committed to preserving this beautiful heritage building for Kingstonians.

You can help.

First, a bit of background.

Known for generations as the Sydenham Street United Church, The Spire is located in the heart of the Old Sydenham Heritage Conservation District and has been a gathering place since long before Confederation. Originally serving as the city’s circus site, the land was donated in 1851 by the city’s first mayor, John Counter. The building is now well known as a centre for music and the arts, and as a welcoming and affordable haven for all. The name, The Spire, captures in two small words the historic value and the new identity of this precious community asset.

Despite this august history, however, changing demographics and economics had cast a shadow over the building’s future. Sustaining a heritage building for future generations to enjoy is no small feat. With this reality, a new vision was needed to maintain this important piece of Kingston’s heritage.

Members of the congregation, as well as interested community members, got busy to come up with a plan.

The result of their work is the metamorphosis of Sydenham Street United Church into The Spire, expanding the building’s use from a traditional place of worship to a nucleus of inclusivity and community.

To achieve the grand vision of turning a church into a centre for the broader community, a campaign was launched to raise $1.5 million. Fundraising is led by Friends of the Spire board – made up of Bruce Hutchinson, president; Liz Bates, vice-president; Ross Cameron, treasurer; Ellie Deir, secretary; and Stephanie Lafond, Don Robinson and Jack Soule, members at large. The board gains support from a wider circle of dedicated volunteers with diverse talents.

As of Spring 2018, more than half of the fundraising goal has been raised with donations from people who know what The Spire gives to Kingston. This has allowed the Friends to make The Spire accessible by upgrading and adding new washrooms, and installing an elevator as well as an accessible entrance into the performance hall. The next project is the addition of an accessible entrance from the William St. sidewalk.

Today, more than 1,000 individuals come through the doors of The Spire every week. This iconic piece of downtown offers space to many different groups including the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston, the Kingston Canadian Film Festival, self-help groups including Alcoholics Anonymous, Fung Loy Kok – Institute of Taosism, Helen Tufts Child Outreach, the Kingston Choral Society, the Sydenham Street United congregation and others.

Friends of The Spire is busy raising the balance of funds needed for an endowment fund that will help with the ongoing upkeep and improvements to the building.

This is where you come in.

Take a moment to find out more about The Spire, the campaign and the case for giving, and please donate what you can (every dollar helps!).

If you love Kingston like we do, you’ll be proud knowing that you are contributing to growing and maintaining a valuable community space for generations to come.



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