The history of the Square church and Square chapel is closely linked. They were both the vision of two men, Titus Kight (its first Minister) and James Kershaw (its founder).
Titus Knight was a pastor of a chapel formed from two cottages in Chapel Fold. However, after 9 years the congregation outgrew the premises. Kershaw, a local merchant and member of the congregation planned, with Knight, to build the Square chapel. The Chapel was licensed as a place of worship in January 1772. The congregation grew and Sunday schools were established. By 1850, the Chapel was so popular that people were turned away due to a lack of space.
In 1852, the land next to the chapel yard was bought. A new chapel was built and the old chapel was refurbished for use by the schools. The Crossley brothers were heavily involved with the new building. Sir Francis Crossley paid the £1,500 cost of the tower and spire.
The Square church was built to the design of a young London architect, Joseph James, in the decorated Gothic style. At the time of building was taller than any other building in Halifax. The new church was dedicated for worship on 15th July 1857.
Under the ministry of Rev. Enoch Mellor, the church attracted the largest congregation in Halifax. However, as congregations dwindled over the years, it was closed for worship in 1969.
On 3rd January 1971, the roof and interior of Square church were destroyed by fire. Later that year, the Environment Secretary gave permission for the building to be demolished. This was with the exception of the tower and spire. Much heated local debate followed and demolition only took place in December 1976, leaving behind what we see today. Its future will now be linked to the new Central library and Archive, preserving and conserving over 150 years of history.
Work on the Square chapel Centre for the Arts was completed in the late summer of 2017. A full programme of events was launched in autumn. The Cornerstone project at the Square Chapel is the new extension and improved facilities at the Grade 2* listed building. This is part of the town's redevelopment, along with the The Piece Hall and a new Central library .
The new building includes:
- a 108-seater multi-purpose cinema and studio theatre to be used for:
- film screenings;
- and workshops;
- new dressing rooms;
- improved toilets;
- and a café-bar area that serves locally sourced food and drink.