Description of Historic Place
The New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District is bounded by Boullee Street to the south and the River Nith to the north, east and west, in the former Village of New Hamburg, now the Township of Wilmot. The District consists of 11 intersecting and parallel streets and approximately 125 residential and commercial buildings. The buildings in the New Hamburg Heritage Conservation are predominantly of brick construction and were constructed between 1840 and 1939.
The New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District was designated, by the Township of Wilmot, in 1992, as a Heritage Conservation District, under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 92-90). Two of the commercial buildings in the New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District are protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, the Waterlot at 17 Huron Street and the Hamilton Bank Building, at 98 Peel Street.
The New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District, the historic downtown core of the Village of New Hamburg, is an important reminder of the Village's development and history. Originally called Cassel, New Hamburg was renamed following an influx of German settlers, in the mid 19th century, who named it after a city in their home country. It was originally settled when mills were established along the River Nith, in the early 18th century, but underwent significant commercial and industrial development when the Grand Trunk Railway arrived in 1856.
The district has three distinct areas. The southwest area of the district, centred at the intersection of Huron and Peel Streets, consists of predominantly commercial and institutional buildings. South of the core, on Peel Street and on Jacob Street, are two of the original residential areas. North of the core is the flood plain of the River Nith.
Although most of the buildings in the New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District are of the Italianate style, the incorporation of a variety of architectural styles represents the social and economic cycles of New Hamburg's history. Late Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Edwardian, Quebec Classic Revival and Beaux Arts styles are each represented. These buildings not only blend with each other but create a harmonious rhythm and character. Common elements, representative of late 19th century commercial architecture, include a height of two to three storeys. The ground floor commercial store fronts have deep recesses and very large plated glass windows. The upper-storeys have smaller arched or rectangular windows and flat roofs. The residential areas feature frame and brick houses, built on medium sized lots, with mature trees.
Anchoring the district are two landmark structures, the B and W Mills and the Hartman Bridge. The B and W Mills are located along the River Nith. Although it was not built until 1905, it is located on the site of one of the earliest mills in New Hamburg and represents the reason for the original settlement of the Village. The Hartman Bridge, a fine example of a single-span Pratt truss designed bridge, spans the River Nith, connecting Huron Street with Waterloo Street. It and its predecessor have served as an important link, helping to make the core of the district a focal point and commercial centre, in the Township. The Hartman Bridge was built in 1939, during the Great Depression, on the site of the Village's original Hartman Bridge, which was named after a local merchant.
Sources: Township of Wilmot By-Law 92-90; New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District Study.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the New Hamburg Heritage Conservation District include its:
- proximity and relationship to the Nith River
- collection of architectural styles including, Late Gothic Revival, Second Empire, Edwardian, Quebec Classic Revival and Beaux Arts
- brick masonry of beige or sandy yellow colour
- late 19th century commercial architecture featuring two to three storey building heights
- ground floor commercial store fronts with deep recesses and large plated glass windows and upper-storeys with smaller arched or rectangular windows and flat roofs
- frame and brick residences built on medium sized lots with mature trees
- B and W Mills
- single-span Pratt truss design of the Hartman Bridge
- Part IV designated “Waterlot”, at 17 Huron Street
- Part IV designated Hamilton Bank Building, at 98 Peel Street
- river bank flood plain