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Church Restaurant

Main dining room, Church Restaurant, Stratford (Photo courtesy of the Church Restaurant)
Offering fine dining in an inspirational setting

Formerly: Mackenzie Memorial Gospel Church
Address: 70 Brunswick Street, Stratford
Built: 1873-74
Adapted: 1975

The former Mackenzie Memorial Gospel Church in Stratford occupies an ideal location, only a short walk from the town’s famous theatres. This location, and the building’s attractive interior architectural features, inspired its transformation into the Church Restaurant.

Owner Mark Craft believes that the original building’s structural integrity was instrumental in the success of this difficult conversion. The largest architectural alteration was the introduction of a commercial kitchen into a former crawl space. Some original footings remain intact in an area of the crawl space that now houses the restaurant’s wine cellar. The pews were used to create seating platforms around the dining area’s perimeter. Also adorning the interior are original light fixtures and stained-glass windows. The restaurant’s dark wood furniture harmonizes with the wooden trusses, which retain their Victorian finish.

The alterations appropriately balance the restaurant’s needs with the building’s original character. The open volume and finishes have been preserved, while respecting the private-public divisions and natural servicing opportunities inherent in the church plan. The dramatic restaurant interior perfectly complements the Stratford theatre experience. Although the transformation occurred over 30 years ago, the Church Restaurant and its upstairs sister restaurant, the Belfry, remain one of Ontario’s best examples of the conversion of a historic property into a hospitality venue.
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