Description of Historic Place
The Old East Heritage Conservation District is located in the east-central part of London. It is bound by Quebec Street on the east, Queens Avenue on the south, Adelaide Street North on the west and Central Avenue on the north, in the City of London. It does not include the properties on Adelaide Street and parts of Central Avenue. The 593,000m² heritage conservation district consists of approximately 805 properties, located on eight intersecting and parallel streets, that were constructed between 1860 and 1930.
The district was designated, by the City of London, in 2006, as a Heritage Conservation District, under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law L.S.P.-3383-111). A number of properties located within the Old East District were previously designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Old East area was originally owned by one of London's earliest pioneers, Noble English, and the approximately 200 acres of forested lands was mainly used for farming, between 1819 and 1856. English established the grid pattern for the Old East area, in response to adjacent industrial and commercial development, by subdividing 35 acres into just less than 120 lots, in 1856, and by subdividing the rest of the land in 1872. English named many of the streets, such as Elias, in the Old East area, after his children.
Development was initially focused on the west and east boundaries of the Old East area, as the centre was dominated by the English Estate and the flowing English Creek. It was not until the early 20th century that the central area became extensively developed, as Old East became the economic engine of the city. The most prominent builders were the Wilkey brothers, Thomas and John, in the northwest area and William Hayman, his son, Harry, and later his grandson, Roy, in the central and west areas of Old East. Both families were actively developing the area from the 1880s to the 1920s.
The railroad tracks to the north and south of the Old East area and the car yards and construction shops for railroad rolling stock provided a healthy employment base for the area. The owners of many Dundas Street businesses resided in the Old East area. In later years, about a quarter of the population in the Old East District had jobs in the city. Some of the more prominent residents of the Old East area include Frank Lawson, founder of Lawson and Jones Printing and Lithographing, and C. R. Somerville, founder of Somerville Box.
The Old East Heritage Conservation District's location between the busy areas of the railroad tracks, industrial land and Dundas Street businesses resulted in a relatively compact residential form characterized by narrow building lots and small front yard set-backs. This enabled the area to have a high population density, while maintaining its community feel. Architectural style varies from street to street, the result of individual builders constructing rows of houses on particular streets. The buildings within these unique streetscapes share the same architectural style featuring common motifs, rooflines, massing and brick construction. The narrow building lots and small front-yard setbacks, together with pockets of identifiable architecture styles, provide a strong visual context in the Old East Heritage Conservation District.
The Old East Heritage Conservation District consists of buildings reminiscent of popular architecture styles, of the development periods, in the area. The most dominant architecture styles within the Old East Heritage Conservation District are Queen Anne, characterized by flamboyant, geometric trim designs and decorative details, and Ontario Cottage, a symmetrical, well proportioned, one-storey bungalow that is often combined with elements of Gothic or Victorian styles, for decorative purposes. A small number of buildings show characteristics of the Classic Revival, Italianate, and late Victorian architectural styles.
Most of the buildings within the Old East Heritage Conservation District were constructed using the local supply of white London stock brick, with a small fraction of buildings constructed using red Milton brick. Distinctive architectural features that contribute to the character of the Old East Heritage Conservation District include: gable fronts, highly detailed with carpentry decoration; keyhole windows, often on the side next to the entrance; and leaded glass transom windows over main doors and windows.
Sources: City of London, By-law L.S.P.-3383-111; Old East Heritage Conservation District Study, Final Report, October 2004.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Old East Heritage Conservation District include its:
- grid pattern laid out by Noble English
- street names reflecting the Elias family, such as Elias Street, a tribute to Noble English's family
- variety of architectural styles, predominantly Queen Anne and Ontario Cottage, but also including Classic Revival, Italianate and late Victorian
- white London stock brick construction
- red Milton brick construction
- highly detailed gable fronts, featuring 'sunburst', 'lattice and diamonds', and 'bars and squares' trim patterns
- decorative cedar shingled gables
- decorative slate roofs and gables
- highly detailed porches, many with gabled fronts
- keyhole windows, often on the side next to the entrance
- arched topped windows, many with intricate leaded and coloured glass
- leaded glass transom windows over main doors and windows
- distinctive cantilevered masonry corners over the first-storey, usually with decorative trim
- location near the north and south railroad tracks, industrial land use and Dundas Street businesses
- unique streetscapes featuring common architectural features, such as motifs, rooflines, massing and brick construction
- narrow building lots and small front yard set-backs