National Trust of Guyana

Church of Ascension

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Location: New Amsterdam, Berbice 

Classification: Religious 

Period/ Year Built: Circa 1844 

Historical Background / Description: 

The Church of Ascension is located at Lot 20 Main and Pope Streets, New Amsterdam. Prior to 1836, the town (New Amsterdam) had no Catholic churches and a committee was appointed to raise funds for a church for the Catholics who were primarily of Dutch and Portuguese origins. A house owned by a Mr. Harkman was bought for 13,000 guilders and it was adapted as their place of worship. The property was later sold and the current site was purchased. six metres (20 feet) by 15.2 metres (50 feet) church was built circa 1844 and called the Church of Ascension. 

In 1902, a decision was made to extend the church rather than constructing a new structure. The rafters were raised at the front of the building giving an additional 4.3 metres (14 feet) in height to the roof. Two towers were erected by Father Gillet and arches were installed running from the door of the building to the sanctuary on both sides. The Roman style church was consecrated by Reverend Compton Theodore Galton that same year. 

On December 24, 1925, a stained-glass window depicting the Ascension of Christ into heaven was unveiled. It was donated by the Mendonca family. In 1968, the church was rehabilitated; the towers were demolished and the front façade of the building was redesigned. In 1991, the building was again renovated and its main altar was demolished. The altar which was located on the north-eastern section of the church was later replaced. The stained-glass window remained a prominent feature of the building.