Description of Historic Place
The Cardno Block is located at 39-47 Main Street South, on the west side of Main Street South, south of John Street, in Seaforth, in the Municipality of Huron East. The three-storey buff brick commercial block, with a clock tower, was constructed in 1877.
The property was designated, by the former Town of Seaforth (now Municipality of Huron East) in 1980, for its heritage value, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, By-law 43 (1980).
Located prominently on Main Street South, the Cardno Block, with its distinctive mansard roof and a clock tower that stands 68 feet high, is a local landmark.
Built in 1877, the Cardno Block reflects a time of prosperity in Seaforth. Shortly after the fire of 1876, which destroyed large portions of Main Street to the north and east, Alexander Cardno had the building constructed. Seaforth was experiencing an economic peak at this time. Simon Powell, an innkeeper, had operated a hotel on the property from 1873 to 1877. Cardno tore down the hotel and adjacent building to make way for his vision of “five large commodious stores” and built the Cardno Block.
The renowned Cardno Music and Concert Hall forms the second storey of the Cardno Block. Advertisements in the Huron Expositor announced a 'grand dramatic company', 'opera company' or 'vaudeville show' regularly occurring at the Cardno Block. The productions were greatly enjoyed by the local population. The Hall also acted as a gathering place, for events sponsored by local service groups, as well as a forum, from which politicians could address their platforms. Patriotic concerts were given during World War 1, some of which were led by local singer Grace McFaul Mullen.
The Cardno Block was also home to many stores serving the Seaforth area. The first tenants of the five stores, starting with the north store, were Hoffman Bros., Laidlaw and Fairley, McDougall and Halley, and Alex Cardno's bakery.
Over time, while the first-storey of commercial facilities remained prosperous, the Hall was replaced by other, more modern facilities and was no longer used as a public space. Nevertheless, Cardno's efforts had a great influence upon the social quality of life within Seaforth and the surrounding countryside.
The Cardno Block is the largest commercial block in Seaforth built in the Second Empire style. Typical of this style, it features a mansard roof and tower clad in decorative slate. Also typical is the heavy bracketing and round-headed dormer windows. Vernacular additions include the seven large Romanesque and Italianate influenced windows on the facade.
Sources: Town of Seaforth By-law 43 (1980); Designation Proposal.
-Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Cardno Block include its:
- prominent location on Main Street South
- two-storey buff brick exterior
- mansard roof
- dormer windows
- cornice brackets
- seven, 2 over 2 paned, Romanesque and Italianate influenced windows, with drip moulds
- clock tower
- decorative slate tile