Heart of Louisiana: Nova Scotia church reconstructed in Abita Springs

Updated: Jan. 30, 2015 at 2:33 AM CST
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ABITA SPRINGS, LA (WVUE) - When a Baptist congregation decided to erect a new church in Abita Springs, the pastor wanted to make sure he had a building that fit the town's old-time charm. He accomplished that and more, bringing in a two-centuries-old church all the way from Canada. FOX 8's Dave McNamara takes us to that "new," very old church in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.

When the Rev. Jerel Keene decided it was time to put up a new building for his Louisiana Church in Abita Springs, he had a certain look in mind.

"We wanted to put something up that would be impressive," Keene said. "Something that when people came to town they would see some antiquity and see some Louisiana history.

So he began searching the countryside for that perfect old church for his 80-member congregation.

"Looking in different places where there was an old church in a cotton field or in an old soybean field or somewhere by a bayou that we could get to that was starting to go down," he said.

But once he started searching online, Keene ended up 2,000 miles away in Nova Scotia.

"I flew up there and looked at the church, and once I got there and saw the size of the church and went into the church, went into the bell tower, went into the ceiling, when into all of those places, I said man this is nice, this is built like nothing I've ever seen in Louisiana, and so I decided I wanted that church," Keene said.

The All Saints Anglican Church in Nova Scotia turned 200 last year. It was built 50 years after the Acadians were expelled from that region of Canada. The old church no longer had a congregation that could support it.

"I didn't meet or talk to anybody up there that was not content that that building was still going to be a church and used somewhere as a place of worship," Keene said.

For the past year, a mix of church members and professionals have been putting the old building back together. The rebuilders match the marks of the original craftsmen - Roman numerals that are chiseled into timbers. As builders began examining the pieces of this giant wooden puzzle, they made an interesting discovery. Some of the parts may be much older than 200 years. One building expert has suggested that some of the timbers may have come from an old French-built fort.

"It came off a much larger building and then was downsized and taken from some other location and made into a church, starting in 1789 and finished in 1814," Keene said.

The work has been steady and the end of construction is in sight. Keene said the resurrection of the building will be complete just in time for Easter Sunday services.

The All Saints Church in the rural village of Granville Centre, Nova Scotia, was deconsecrated 10 years ago and put up for sale in 2009.

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