To replace the original St. Matthew’s Chapel that was destroyed by fire in 1845, stonemason John Cliff was tasked with building a Neo-Gothic stone church in 1848. Opened a year later, his original design gradually disappeared during major subsequent alterations by prominent Montréal architect William Tutin Thomas.
Thomas started by expanding the church by adding a transept and a five-sided choir in 1870, then replaced the main nave southern aisle in 1875 and finally adding a bell tower in 1882.
In 1899-1900, Thomas’ original choir was demolished and replaced with the current one by Alfred Arthur Cox and Louis-Auguste Amos, also of Montreal.
When the church fell into disuse, it was purchased by the city of Québec in 1979 and converted to a library branch by Gagnon, Letellier & Cyr in 1980.
Originally known as Bibliothèque Saint Jean Baptiste after the neighbourhood it’s situated in, the library was renamed in 2017 to honour writer, translator and radio host Claire Martin, a native of Québec City.
For more examples of adaptive reuse projects involving libraries, see the list I have started putting together.
- Ville de Québec. Fiche d’un bâtiment patrimonial: Église Saint-Matthew. Répertoire du patrimoine bâti.
- Conseil du Patrimoine Religieux du Québec et Bibliothèque de Montréal (2012). Colloque sur la transformation d’églises en bibliothèques. pp. 34-35. May 4, 2012.
- Mendel, D. (1987). Un écrin médiéval, l’église St. Matthew. Cap-aux-Diamants, 3(1), pp. 49–52.
- Dubois, M. (2009). Architecture municipale à Québec: 100 bâtiments publics. Publications du Québec, pp. 154-155.
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!