The Methodist Church has a long history in Richmond Hill, being a point on the Yonge Street circuit of the saddle-bag preacher as early as 1805. The early congregation met in a log settlement duty house, then in a new log schoolhouse, and for a period of time, shared space in the original Presbyterian Church built in 1821. By 1846, the congregation was able to construct its own place of worship, a frame Classical Revival style church that was located on the east side of Yonge Street, a little south of Centre Street.
After a fire destroyed the frame church in December of 1879, the congregation undertook to build the present church on a nearby site in 1880. In 1925, the Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians entered into a union to be known as the United Church of Canada.
Richmond Hill United Church was designed in the High Victorian Gothic Revival style by Toronto architect Charles Walton, best known for his Yonge Street Arcade of 1883. The church was built by James Burns of Markdale, of white (buff coloured) brick supplied by local brickmaker William Powell. The building has a picturesque asymmetrical silhouette, and boasts the tallest steeple of all the historic churches in the old village core of Richmond Hill.
The traditional cruciform shape of the nave, chancel, transepts and apse is evident. Added to these interpenatrating elements are the two asymmetrical towers at the west front corners. The main tower at the south west corner is 3-tiered with buttresses, topped by a broached metal-clad spire ornamented with an iron finial and slim gable-roofed dormers with Gothic arched louvered openings and iron finials. The shorter 2-tiered tower at the northwest corner has a square base with buttreses, octagonal second level, and conical metal-clad roof ornamented with an iron finial. Both towers incorporate ornamental gables topped with iron finials. Additional louvered dormers are found on the main gable roof and hipped rood of the apse.
The projecting entrance porch, with side buttresses, angled parapet,
and Gothic-arched opening, shelters the Gothic-arched main entrance, which
incorporated a transom light with wooden tracery and stained glass, and
segmentally-headed double-leaf doors constructed with diagonal, beaded tongue
and groove flush panels. A secondary door on the south side of the main tower
is similarly treated.
In keeping with the High Victorian Gothic Revival design, the church
is richly decorated with stepped buttresses, projecting brick plinth, string
courses, brick corbelling, brick voussoirs and hood moulds, painted pressed
metal and limestone copings, limestone rosettes, and limestone window sills.
The monochromatic brickwork is laid in common bond with beaded pointing. The
generous window openings are typically Gothic-arched with moulded wooden
frames, with the principal windows containing moulded wooden tracery and
stained glass. A limestone datestone bearing the inscription "A.D. 1880" is
located at the base of the main tower.