H and R Block Building
133 Wyndham Street North
126 Woolwich Street
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The H and R Block Building is located at 133 Wyndham Street North, and is situated on the east side of Wyndham Street, in downtown Guelph. The three-storey stone commercial building was constructed in 1868.
The property was designated, by the City of Guelph, in 2006, for its cultural heritage value or interest, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act By-law (2006)1798.
The H and R Block Building is the centre portion of a three part commercial building called the Alma Block. The Alma Block's age, architectural features and connection to the city's early commercial development make it very significant to the history of the downtown area. The H and R Block Building's situation within the Alma Block has contributed to the success of many local downtown businesses for over 130 years. It currently houses H and R Block, for which it is named.
The Alma Block was designed by James Smith, a well-known Toronto architect, in the late Italianate style and flourished with ornate stonework that was unusual for commercial buildings. It is believed to be one of the most attractive examples of commercial architecture in Ontario from that decade.
The H and R Block Building was built by local wholesale grocer James Massie in 1868 to replace an earlier commercial building that was destroyed by fire. It is a fine example of mid-19th century commercial architecture. It was constructed of dressed limestone by local contractors Kennedy and Pike. Of note on the three-bay façade are the original sashes of the second-storey, along with a dentil trimmed cornice and stone parapet, mannered window surrounds and rusticated pilasters.
The Alma Block buildings have rear additions built in circa 1874 which face Woolwich Street. Built in the Neo-Classical and Functional architecture style, the rear additions do not form the same continuous and uniform streetscape as the Wyndham Street façades. The one-storey concrete block addition to the H and R Block Building is located at 126 Woolwich Street.
Sources: City of Guelph, By-law (2006)-17981; City of Guelph, Short Statement of Reasons for Designation, The Alma Block, December 2005; City of Guelph, Background Information for Proposed Designation Site, Alma Block, July 2005.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the H and R Block include its:
- continuous use as a downtown commercial building for over 130 years
- situation within the City of Guelph's commercially significant Alma Block
- stone construction of the three-storey portion of the building
- flat roof on the three-storey portion of the building
- ornate stonework construction unusual for commercial buildings
- street-level shop façade and three-bay upper-storey façade
- dentil trimmed cornice and stone parapet
- rusticated raised architraves leading to round-headed window openings with bracketed horizontal pediments on the second storey and segmental arches on the third-storey
- tooled sill courses
- rusticated cornice pilasters
- original second-storey sashes
- concrete block rear addition
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
2006/01/01 to 2006/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Kennedy and Pike
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Guelph
Community Design and Development Services
1 Carden Street
Cross-Reference to Collection