When I arrived, I was immediately taken by the commanding position the church held atop a fairly high hill surrounded by grave markers. As I walked up the hill, I wondered how the town's older worshipers might have made it up.
Already impressed by the old church's exterior, I moved around to its only door, fully expecting it to be locked. To my amazement, I was greeted by a sign that simply asked me to latch the door when I left.
The former St. Leonard's Anglican Church was built in 1875 on land donated by the town's founder, J.S.J. Watson. Many additions and improvements were added in the years to come, including the communion rail and organ in 1882, the wood stove in 1885, and the belfry and bell in 1891.
The church appears to have closed in 1941. The pews, font and bell were removed and distributed to other churches.
In 1975, a group called Madawaska Association for Developmental Ecology (M.A.D.E.) performed repairs on the church's walls and roof, and arranged for the return of the original pews. Nothing further happened until 1995.
The Friends of the Rockingham Church formed in 1995 as a result of a petition to the municipality by the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa for demolition. By 1998, the incorporated charity had purchased the building and continued repairs.
When I entered the church, it was like stepping through a time machine into the late 1800's. While containing little, and unadorned by fancy decorations one normally associates with a church, there was still something compelling and historic about the place. Further increasing my amazement at the lack of security, I noted the antique pump organ, among other small items, untouched by vandals, thieves, or taggers.
As instructed by the sign near the door, I firmly closed the front door behind me, hoping to ensure its pristine condition for future visitors.