Description of Historic Place
The County of Wellington Building, located at 127-131 Wyndham Street North, is situated on the east side of Wyndham Street, in downtown Guelph. The three-storey stone commercial building was constructed in 1868.
The property was designated, by the City of Guelph, in 2006, for its cultural heritage value or interest, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law (2006)-17980).
The County of Wellington Building is the southern most commercial building of the Alma Block, which consists of three buildings whose age, architectural features and connection to the city's early commercial development make it very significant to the city's downtown core. The County of Wellington Building's situation within the Alma Block has contributed to the success of many local downtown businesses for over 130 years. It currently houses the administrative offices for the County of Wellington, for which it is named.
The Alma Block was designed by James Smith, a well known Toronto architect, in the late Italianate style, and is embellished with ornate stonework, that was unusual for commercial buildings. It is believed to be one of the most attractive examples of commercial architecture, in Ontario, from that decade.
Built in 1868 by a local wholesale grocer, James Massie, to replace an earlier commercial building, that was destroyed by fire, the County of Wellington Building is a fine example of mid-19th century commercial architecture. It was constructed by local contractors, Kennedy and Pike in dressed limestone and features a dentil trimmed cornice and stone parapet, mannered window surrounds and rusticated pilasters. Characteristics of the previous building are reflected in the design of the County of Wellington Building, such as; the three street-level shop façades, separated by a series of columns, supporting segmented arches.
The Alma Block buildings have rear additions, built in circa 1874, which face Woolwich Street. Built in the Neo-Classical and Functional architecture styles, the rear additions do not form the same continuous and uniform streetscape as the Wyndham Street façades. The one-and-a-half-storey rough coursed limestone addition to the County of Wellington Building, located at 122 Woolwich Street, was built in circa 1955 and replaced the earlier 1874 addition.
Sources: City of Guelph, By-law (2006)-17980; City of Guelph, Short Statement of Reasons for Designation, The Alma Block, December 2005; City of Guelph, Background Information for Proposed Designation Site, Alma Block, July 2005.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the County of Wellington Building include its:
- continuous use as a downtown commercial building for over 130 years
- situation within the City of Guelph's commercially significant Alma Block
- stone construction of the three-storey portion of the building
- flat roof on the three-storey portion of the building
- ornate stonework construction unusual for commercial buildings
- three street-level shop facades separated by a series of columns supporting segmented arches
- six-bay upper-storey façade
- dentil trimmed cornice and stone parapet
- rusticated raised architraves leading to round-headed window openings with bracketed horizontal pediments on the second storey and segmented arches on the third storey
- tooled sill courses
- rusticated pilasters
- rough coursed limestone construction and gable roof of the rear one-and-a-half-storey addition facing Woolwich Street