The history of Square Church is closely linked to the history of Square Chapel. They were the vision of two men: its first minister, Titus Knight, and its founder, James Kershaw.
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 a member of the congregation planned with Knight the building of Square Congregational Chapel. The Chapel was licensed as a place of worship in January 1772, the congregation grew significantly and Sunday Schools were established. By 1850 the chapel was so popular they had to turn people away because of lack of space.
In 1852 the land next to the chapel yard was bought, where a new chapel was built and the old chapel was refurbished for the use of the schools. The Crossley brothers were heavily involved with the new building and Sir Francis Crossley met the £1500 cost of the tower and spire.
The spectacular Square Church was built to the design of a young London architect, Joseph James, in the decorated Gothic style, and at the time of building was taller than any other building in Halifax. The new church was dedicated for worship on 15 July 1857.
Under the ministry of Rev Enoch Mellor, the church attracted the largest congregation in the town. However, as congregations dwindled over the years, it was closed for worship in 1969.
On 3 January 1971, the roof and interior of Square Church were destroyed by fire and later that year the Environment Secretary gave permission for the building to be demolished, 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 has begun on the Square Chapel Centre for the Arts. The Cornerstone project at the Square Chapel will see a new extension and improved facilities at the Grade 2* listed building and forms part of the redevelopment of the town along with the redevelopment of the Piece Hall and a new Central Library. The project should be completed by the summer of 2017 with a full programme of events to launch in the autumn of that year.
The new building will include a 108 seater multi-purpose cinema and studio theatre to be used for film screenings, performances and workshops; new dressing rooms; improved toilets; and a café-bar area that will serve locally sourced food and drink.