For more than 160 years, this magnificent historic building at 82 Sydenham Street has been a notable Kingston landmark in the heart of the city.
Open its doors and see the bustle of activity for organizations that have made The Spire their home. People of all ages gather to celebrate the arts, to sing, to act, to dance, to find safe harbour and to learn together. Today it is home to more than 20 community and cultural groups.
From office space leasing to performance hall rentals, The Spire has something for everyone.
Friends of The Spire
Friends of The Spire is an incorporated charitable organization with these objectives:
- Maintain The Spire as a community hub for organizations that foster the arts, social justice, and spirituality.
- Develop and provide safe and inclusive spaces for rehearsals, meetings, exhibitions, and performances by community members.
- Restore, protect, and enhance the heritage building to expand its community use.
The Friends of The Spire will preserve and promote The Spire’s notable history.
Board of Directors
- Bruce Hutchinson, Past Chair
- Steve Campbell, Chair
- Anita Mercier, Vice Chair
- Elspeth Deir, Secretary
- Rob Ivimey, Treasurer
Members at Large
- Marc Garniss
- Liz Bates
- Jack Soule
- Cynthia Beach
- Ian Malcolm – ex officio
Kingston Live & The Spire as a Community and Performing Arts Hub
Frequently Asked Questions
(Click on question for answer)
1. What is The Spire?
The Spire is an anchor heritage building/venue in the historic “Old Sydenham Heritage Conservation District” in downtown Kingston, built by the Methodists in 1851. For generations it has been a place where community members have gathered to worship as well as to receive support, sing, learn, rehearse, perform and attend concerts.
2. Who uses this facility today?
The Spire is home to over twenty arts and community organizations including the congregation of Sydenham Street United Church (SSU). About 1,200 people from the community use the facilities at The Spire including musicians, children, members of self-help groups and other agencies.
3. Who owns The Spire?
The building is held in trust by the Board of Trustees on behalf of The United Church of Canada.
4. Who manages The Spire?
A Business Management Group (BMG), including congregation and community members is responsible to maintain the building and ensure a steady income from rentals and concerts. An Operations Manager ensures smooth day-to-day functioning of the building, including the physical plant, liaison with tenants and users, and staff supervision.
5. What’s the relationship between the BMG, the congregation, and Friends of The Spire (FOS)?
A Memorandum of Understanding between Friends of The Spire and the Trustees of SSU describes the relationship. The main function of Friends is to raise the profile of this historic building and raise funds to support capital projects. Friends have a vision and commitment to protect and renew this asset. We intend to preserve, sustain, invite new users and enable new activities at The Spire.
6. Why did you move to this model?
Like all mainstream Protestant denominations in Canada, the congregation of SSU is aging and shrinking. While The Spire is a prominent and well maintained heritage building serving community needs, it requires ongoing maintenance: boilers, roof repairs, and so on. Removing responsibility for raising funds and supervising these kinds of projects from the congregation has meant a more fulsome use of the building by community members, who have indicated by their continuing financial support and use of the facility, that they value this piece of our city’s heritage and infrastructure. No other spaces in the city offer the same benefits to community organizations: affordability, accessibility, downtown location, and welcoming rainbow flag.
7. Why are you seeking funds from the community?
We need to preserve and enhance the utility of this building for public use as an arts and community hub. We have ongoing capital projects. We have future capital projects in mind and are confident that the community sees the value in our building and enterprise – and will support our fund-raising appeals. In the past 5 years, FOS have raised more than $1.1M to install an elevator, increase the number of washrooms, add an accessible ramp and exterior entry, and improve lighting and security. Support Us
8. Any other questions?
“[The Spire] is a magnificent venue for musical performances and a location for many community groups to meet and to have office space. By being located in a transition zone between the downtown commercial core and the adjacent residential neighbourhoods, it offers “neutral territory” to those needing a fresh start or a safe haven. By offering affordable space for community use, The Spire supports many local organizations that otherwise would struggle. By supporting a wide constituency of groups within the community, The Spire is inclusive and welcoming.”
Dr. Carl Bray, Principal, Bray Heritage
“This building and the people in it have always been about outreach, social justice, the community…prison work, homelessness and other justice issues. This plan allows it to continue this role. I like that.”
Member of Kingston’s professional community
“Great rehearsal space. A building like this should be preserved. It will have its own niche. There is no comparable space. Kingston has a lively arts community. More suitable spaces will only serve to increase and draw more artists.”
Neighbourhood Property Owner
Join us at the Spire
613.542.9616 ex. 202
82 Sydenham Street
We are located on the corner of Sydenham and William Streets in Downtown Kingston
M-F: 9am - 4pm
Program areas open as scheduled