Grace United Church was designed by William Thomas (1799-1860), a British-born architect who is recognized as 'one of the founders of the Canadian architectural profession'. Completed in 1852, for a Free Kirk Presbyterian congregation, the building was sold to a Methodist congregation in 1875 and following Church Union, in 1925, the church became home to the Grace United Church. This building, which is predominately 'Romanesque' with chunky corbel tables and pilaster strips, is one of only three smaller churches designed by Thomas, which are still in existence today.
William Thomas designed two other historic structures in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The 185 foot columnar monument to Sir Isaac Brock on Queenston Heights rises from a richly trophied base guarded by carved lions - it is arguably Thomas's most florid composition. The Court House on Queen Street, in the Old Town was designed by Thomas, in 1847, in the 'Classical Revival Style' - it currently houses the Shaw Festival, the Chamber of Commerce offices and the Lord Mayor's formal chambers.
The significance of Thomas's contribution cannot be overestimated. His buildings became the focus of towns, housing the communities' religious, governmental, educational, commercial and cultural activities. In early drawings, prints and photographs of Toronto, Quebec City, Hamilton, Halifax, London, Guelph, Chatham, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, we can see the direct and indirect effects of Thomas's work. His church spires pierce the sky, his public buildings dominate town blocks, often his stores are the most fashionable places to shop, and his residential designs are artfully placed within their settings.
When Thomas died in 1860 he had designed over 100 buildings in Canada. However, it was his 30 or more churches that brought early acclaim, including his most ambitious church, St. Michael's Catholic Cathedral on Church Street in Toronto. We at Grace United Church take pride in our historic church and its ties to early Canadian architecture.
Source - Neil Einerson: William Thomas - Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 8