Description of Historic Place
Building 1, also known as the Officers’ Mess, is a low, simple, sturdy, vernacular building that features a few classical elements, a narrow, irregularly shaped plan, a gable roof and a full basement that is partially exposed at the rear due to the sloping site. Building 1 is oriented towards the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada and marks the western end of the original row of four principal buildings at Royal Artillery Park. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Building 1 is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Building 1 is a very good example of the national theme of Imperial defence, specifically the land-based defence of the Halifax harbour and of the Royal Navy Dockyard by the British army, and of the sub-theme of garrison life or the accommodation and social aspect of military life. As the ceremonial heart of the regiment, Building 1 is the most appropriate place to commemorate the unit associated with this theme, the Royal Artillery, which played a major role in the nationwide defence of Canada. Building 1 has a long, ongoing association with Royal Artillery Park and has long been the site of many important events such as high-level ceremonies and meetings.
Building 1 is also a rare, surviving example of the end of the formative phase of Royal Artillery Park. This period corresponds with the final years of the transformation of Halifax and its defences begun under the tenure of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, as the Commander in Chief. Building 1 marks a turning point in the evolution of military life in the garrison and because of its function, had an important influence on the community.
Building 1 is a good example of a vernacular building influenced by the tradition of British Classicism. Despite successive alterations, the building is characterized by a basic, efficient, linear layout that has proven to be very adaptable, and the classical qualities and proportions of some of the interior spaces on the main level of the building have been retained. Building 1 is constructed of high quality materials and craftsmanship, most notably the interior woodwork and detailing of the door casings, mouldings, and mantelpieces.
Building 1 strongly reinforces the military character of the campus setting of Royal Artillery Park, which in turn is oriented to the Citadel and reinforces the historic character of the Citadel and the glacis. An integral component of Royal Artillery Park, Building 1 has influenced the scale and type of buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood, which consists primarily of residential and low-rise commercial buildings. Building 1 is a visually prominent building and one of two of the earliest surviving buildings at Royal Artillery Park, and as such, it is a well-known local landmark.
Sources: Ian Doull, Buildings No.1,2,3,6,8, Royal Artillery Park, CFB Halifax, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report 90-005; Officers’ Mess, N:1 (Former Officers’ Quarters and Mess), Royal Artillery Park, Halifax Nova Scotia, Heritage character Statement, 90-005.
The character-defining elements of Building 1 should be respected.
Its aesthetic design, good functional design and its high quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- its narrow massing and low, one-and-a-half-storey scale, sharply pitched gable roof and large chimneys;
- the remaining classical elements on the exterior of the building such as the gable on the main elevation which is that of the original frontispiece and marks the location of the original entrance;
- the basic and efficient linear layout of the building which has proven to be highly adaptable;
- the classical qualities of the large, well-proportioned rooms connected by large, open archways and round-headed niches on the main level;
- the high quality, interior woodwork and detailing including classical elements such as the door casings, mouldings and early mantelpieces.
The manner in which the building reinforces the military character of the campus setting of Royal Artillery Park, and is a visually prominent and well-known local landmark as evidenced by:
- its low residential scale and massing which are in keeping with the other remaining Royal Artillery Park buildings, and which have influenced the scale and type of buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood;
- its location at the western end of the original row of the four principal Royal Artillery buildings including the Commanding Officer’s Residence;
- the view from the building to the signalling masts on the Citadel which is significant since it was through this visual connection that the early officers learned of recent ship arrivals and military messages.