Description of Historic Place
The building at 193 Davey Street, known as Layer Cake Hall, is situated in the Village of Bath, in Loyalist Township. The one-and-a-half-storey board and batten building was designed in the Carpenter's Gothic style and constructed in 1859.
The exterior of the building is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1981). The property is also designated by Loyalist Township under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 411-78).
Located in the Village of Bath, in Loyalist Township, Layer Cake Hall's setting close to the street, surrounded by 19th century houses and a row of mature pine trees, is enhanced by the small scale and domestic appearance of the structure, in a residential part of the town.
Layer Cake Hall is significant for its association with various community and religious organizations in Bath. It was built by the Mechanics' Institute of Bath in 1859, however, ownership was transferred to the builder and carpenter, Abraham Harris, when the Institute could not afford to pay for the construction. Harris leased the upper storey to the Masonic Order, and the lower storey to the Presbyterian congregation of Bath, as its place of worship. Following a long illness, Abraham Harris died, in 1880, and left a considerable debt to Dr. Roderick Kennedy. Kennedy acquired the property as payment for Harris' medical bills and the leases were maintained. In 1890, the Masons left as tenants and St. John's Anglican Church began to use the second storey as a church hall, while the Presbyterian Congregation continued to use the ground floor for its services. Following the Church Union in 1925, the Presbyterian congregation dissolved and vacated the ground floor. At the same time, the entire building came into the hands of the Anglican Church, which used the ground floor as the ladies' auxiliary. Later the Anglican Church donated the building to the Women's Institute. Layer Cake Hall is now a community library. The building's name is derived from its shared or layered use by various congregations and organizations.
Layer Cake Hall is a significant example of the Carpenter's Gothic style, examples of which, are not widespread in Ontario. This style often reflects the craftsmanship and ability of the carpenter who constructed the building. One-and-a-half storeys high, built in rectangular plan, with a gable roof (originally of cedar shingle), Layer Cake Hall has slightly projecting transepts on the north and south facades. Both are capped by a gable roof with an elaborate wood vergeboard, resembling a mid-19th century Ontario farmhouse, with a church-like plan. The timber frame structure is clad in board and batten siding, has pointed arch windows, an elaborate wood vergeboard, pinnacles and drop pendants on all four gables. The front entrance is beneath the east gable near the street, below an arcade and architrave creating a shallow umbrage. The front door has round-headed sidelights, a blind transom, and paneled embrasures flanking the recessed walls on either side. Two pilasters support an entablature over a three-arched arcade, supported by two engaged and two free standing columns. The two outside arches are semi-circular while the middle arch has three points. Each arch has a keystone and open spandrels. Directly above the entrance is a gothic window surrounded by a drip-moulding, with two lancet windows flanking a taller, central lancet. Two small roundels are placed on either side of the central lancet and small glazed areas fill in the space in the spandrels. The north and south sides of the structure are both three bays across. The north side is distinguished by an entrance half way up the wall, accessed by a small exterior staircase. The ground floor windows have window hoods with drip-mouldings and two sashes of 15 panes each, separated by a vertical mullion. The north and south gables both have a gothic window that contain a pair of lancet windows with a roundel in the space above. The rear elevation has a gothic window similar to one above the main entrance, below which, is a one storey lean-to and a small gabled wing, both clad in board and batten.
Source: OHT Easement Files.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Layer Cake Hall include its:
- Carpenter's Gothic architectural style
- white-washed board and batten siding
- rectangular plan with slightly projecting cross bays
- metal-clad gable roof
- wood vergeboard on all four gables
- pinnacles and drop pendants of all four gables
- church-like plan
- Gothic windows with drip-mouldings and window hoods
- roundels set within the Gothic windows
- lancet windows set within the Gothic windows
- ground floor windows
- round-headed sidelights and blind transom of the front entrance
- paneled embrasures flanking the recessed walls of the entrance umbrage
- entablature over the three-arched arcade
- two engaged and two free-standing columns of the arcade
- keystone of the elliptical and two semi-circular arches of the arcade
- small scale, domestic appearance and short set-back
- proximity to other 19th century residences
- mature pines creating a border to the side of the property