Description of Historic Place
Located in the heart of Ottawa's Byward Market, 41 York Street is a four storey, gable roofed structure, with a combination of stone and brick walls. 41 York Street was constructed in 1875 and it is currently used for commercial purposes.
41 York Street is designated, by the City of Ottawa, for its historical and architectural value, in By-law 201-90.
This building has a long-standing and integral tie with York Street, historically the major thoroughfare in Ottawa's Byward Market. 41 York Street was built in 1875, just as the City built its second market building, firmly orienting market activities on the York Street axis. At this time the Byward Market began its shift from a bulk provision centre for the military and fur trade to a farmer's market. Hotels and produce merchants predominated as York Street's major businesses.
41 York Street served both of these functions. It was built as the St. Louis Hotel when its predecessor, a one-storey, stone, auctioneer and commission merchant's hall, built in 1862, was gutted by fire in April 1874. The St. Louis was constructed on the walls of its predecessor and incorporated its early street form into the ground floor. The hotel's first proprietor, Mary Bartlett, was a veteran market hotelier. Located on York Street just two lots away from the 'new' market building, the structure featured the high gable roof preferred by market merchants of the period. The St. Louis was named after a fashionable Quebec hotel to appeal to visitors. It operated as a hotel under various proprietors from 1875 to 1909.
From 1921 to 1975 it served as the premise for Peter Devine Ltd., grocers. The exterior image of the building was modernized at this time to fulfill its new merchandising function.
In the latter part of the 19th century, 41 York Street was a three-and-a-half storey, gable roof structure with three dormer windows and a wooden second storey balcony. In the early 20th century the roof was flattened and changed from three-and-a-half to four storeys. The dormer windows and balcony were removed and several windows on the west elevation were closed. The roof, dormers, balconies, storefront and windows were restored and reconstructed in the 1990s to their original state.
As a nineteenth century brick structure, with its open street level façade, segmented arched windows above, and substantial metal cornice, 41 York Street represents one of a number of commercial buildings which gave the Byward Market its distinctive character, as Ottawa's oldest commercial area.
Located on the north side of York Street, which has always been one of the primary means of access to the Byward Market, along with the unusual width of the street from Sussex St. to Parent St., makes 41 York Street and its adjacent commercial structures a highly visible row
Sources: City of Ottawa By-law 201-90, City of Ottawa L.A.C.A.C. (Julian Smith 1989), Heritage Survey and Evaluation Form (City of Ottawa, 1990).
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of 41 York Street as a 19th century commercial building include its:
- brick façade and metal cornice and regular segmented arched windows
- gable roof
- dormer windows
- second storey balcony
- street level storefront and windows
- location among the heritage commercial buildings lining the north side of York Street, representing Ottawa's oldest commercial area