Description of Historic Place
The Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District is located in the North London area of the City of London. It is bounded by Waterloo Street, Wellington Street, Grosvenor Street and Oxford Street East. The District consists of five intersecting and parallel tree-lined streets and contains 199 residential buildings, that are predominantly of brick construction, in the Queen Anne Revival style. Most were constructed between 1895 and 1910 and two churches were constructed in circa 1888 and 1899.
The district was designated, by the City of London, in 2001, as a Heritage Conservation District, under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law L.S.P.-3333-305). Twenty-five of the residential buildings in the Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District are also protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District features wide tree-lined streets which are a distinctive feature of the District and act as a linear park. The back lanes found behind the houses, a typical 19th century town planning feature, contribute to the park-like character of the District. Back lanes have resulted in fewer front driveways and parked vehicles on the streets and has encouraged more trees and gardens along the streets.
The Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District is associated with Bishop Isaac Hellmuth, one of the most influential early citizens of London. It was his ambition to create a religious and educational centre patterned on England's Oxford and Cambridge. The District is located on the land occupied by the former Hellmuth Boys' College, which Hellmuth founded in 1865.
Although the school closed in 1877, Hellmuth went on to serve as the second Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Huron and the founder and first chancellor of the University of Western Ontario.
The Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District is significant because of its distinct architectural character. The houses, constructed between 1895 and 1910, are overwhelmingly of the Queen Anne Revival style of architecture. This style is decorative and flamboyant and represents the optimism and energy of a growing and prosperous city, at the turn of the century. The houses have brick exteriors and display elements typical of the Queen Anne Revival style, including double-hung sash windows, front verandahs and steeply sloping roofs with secondary gables, dormers and peaks. Entrance doors are architectural highlights with transoms, sidelights and stained glass accents. Decorative front gables are richly embellished and decorative wood trim is evident. The houses are mostly uniform in height, reaching between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half storeys. The consistency of these elements creates a distinct character and a visual cohesiveness in the district.
The Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District has two architectural focal points, the Church of St. John the Evangelist on St. James Street and St. James Presbyterian Church on Oxford Street. The Church of St. John the Evangelist was designed by local architect Charles F. Cox and constructed between 1887 and 1888, with a tower addition in 1897. It is an exquisite example of the Gothic Revival style and is reminiscent of medieval parish churches in England, featuring grey brick, a slate roof and copper flashing. St. James Presbyterian Church was designed by local architect William Murray and built in 1899. It is a fine example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, featuring red-brick and a slate roof, as well as towers, turrets and gables on the Oxford Street facade.
Sources: Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District Study, City of London, Nicholas Hill, 2000; Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District Plan, City of London, Nicholas Hill, 2000; City of London By-Law L.S.P.-3333-305.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Bishop Hellmuth Heritage Conservation District include its:
- wide, tree-lined streets
- back lanes
- location on the site of the Hellmuth Boys' College
- overall consistency of Queen Anne style architecture and features in the 199 residential buildings
- mainly brick constructed buildings
- consistency of height between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half storeys
- two key focal points: Church of St. John the Evangelist and St. John Presbyterian Church
- twenty-five Part IV designated properties under the Ontario Heritage Act