Description of Historic Place
The Emporium is located at 169 Front Street, on the east side of Front Street, south of Main Street, in the Village of New Dundee, now the Township of Wilmot. The store is a two-storey yellow-brick and stucco over rubble stone, that was constructed in 1887.
The property was designated, by the Township of Wilmot, in 1985, for its historical or architectural value or interest, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 85-59).
The Emporium has continuously served the community as a store for over 100 years. It was built in 1887, with a rear addition in 1888, by a prominent New Dundee resident, Gottlieb Bettschen. Gottlieb was the son of the first Reeve of Wilmot Township, Jacob Bettschen. Gottlieb was also the first vintner to introduce Concord and Delaware grapes to the area and the organizer of the Farmers' Institute of South Waterloo and New Dundee Library Association. Gottlieb purchased several lots on Front Street, in 1886, but found the street to be very narrow. To compensate, he altered the plan to indicate a set back of twelve feet. This included the block designed for the Emporium. The block was known as the Jubilee Block, as the year of construction marked the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's reign.
Even though Gottlieb owned the Emporium until 1915, he never ran the store. He leased the space to several tenants over the years. The first operator was J.U. Clemens, a prominent merchant, both in New Dundee and Berlin (Kitchener). The most prominent tenant, Jacob Kavelman, eventually became the owner of the store in 1915 and operated it until 1974. Kavelman, a fire chief, librarian and a member of the Musical Society Band, converted the upstairs into living quarters in 1921.
The Emporium is one of the best examples of the Victorian mercantile architecture in both the Township of Wilmot and the Region of Waterloo. It features a boomtown front with a prominent cornice, and intricate brick work on the façade. Typical of this style it features a brick façade of symmetrical design with eight bays. The second-storey consists of eight segmented arched windows and the first-storey consists of a total of eight alternating fixed single-sash windows and doors. The façade's first-storey has a veranda running its entire length. The other three elevations of the Emporium were constructed using rubble stone, stuccoed and engraved with a diamond pattern, and feature at least one door on the first-storey.
Sources: The Emporium, New Dundee: Wilmot LACAC; The Emporium, Architectural Survey, 1985, Michael D. Longo.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Emporium include its:
- situation on Gottlieb Bettschen's plan for the Jubilee block
- continuous use as a local store for over 100 years
- yellow and white brick construction of the façade in stretcher bond
- north, south and east elevations stucco over rubble stone construction
- symmetrical façade
- boxed cornice, with a frieze of dentils and eave brackets
- alternating single-sash, fixed, four glazed panel windows and plain architraves with embrasure doors, four of each, on the first-storey of the façade
- eight segmented arched double hung windows on the second storey of the façade
- double, two-panel door and three single four panel doors on façade
- corner brick pilaster on the west elevation which arches into the corbelling detail of the frieze
- veranda running along the façade's first-storey
- entrance doors on each elevation