Portaferry Presbyterian Church
Portaferry is one of the first Presbyterian congregations in Ireland. It was founded in 1642 and moved to this site around 1662 when the original church at Templecranny was returned to the Church of Ireland. The original Meeting House was rebuilt in 1751 as a plain T-shaped barn but needed further work in 1839 after it was seriously damaged in the “Night of the Big Wind” on 7th January.
The Rev. John Orr (minister 1822-1875), engaged the brilliant young architect John Miller who designed the present neo-classical building based on the ruined Temple of Nemesis in Greece. It took two years to complete and cost £1999.12s6d - this being met by the congregation and neighbours of all denominations. It was opened by the noted evangelical Presbyterian, the Rev. Henry Cooke, in September 1841.
In 2014 the building underwent an extensive restoration, funded mainly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is now a heritage and arts centre as well as the congregational home.
Steel Dickson Avenue (formerly The Back Lane) is named after the Rev. Dr. William Steel Dickson, minister of this congregation and founder of a classics school in Portaferry. He joined the Society of United Irishmen in 1791 and was a consistent advocate of Catholic emancipation. Reputedly he was Adjutant General of the United Irish Forces in Co Down. He was arrested two days before the rebellion of 1798 and imprisoned in Fort George, Inverness until 1802. He died in 1824 in much reduced circumstances.