Description of Historic Place
The L'Orignal Court House and Jail is a municipal government complex of nineteenth and twentieth century additions, centred around an 1825 Neo-classical stone courthouse. It is located at 59 Court Street in the Village of L'Orignal.
The property was designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act by the Township of Champlain on June 20, 2007 (By-law 2007-47).
The L'Orignal Court House is the oldest courthouse in Ontario and one of the oldest in Canada. The building pre-dates the major settlement and any significant economic development of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell. Its construction and expansion over the years has resulted in a dynamic illustration of government functions, which were the root of the development of Canadian society. It is the oldest continuously used municipal facility in the province and has housed the council and administrative offices of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, since 1850. When the jail was closed, in 1998, it was the oldest such facility operating in Ontario.
In addition to being the most important public building in Prescott and Russell, the jail is one of the most significant to the Franco-Ontarian community. Until it closed in 1998, the jail was the only francophone correctional facility in Ontario and offered excellent educational, religious and health programs in French. The building helped perpetuate the francophone presence in Ontario.
The original 1825 stone courthouse, facing Queen Street, is representative of the Loyalist Neo-Classical style. The later east (1848) and west (1861) wings, the north addition to the west wing (1870) and the rear addition to the central structure (1940) maintain the neo-classical inspiration, typical of the Georgian style, of the original section. The regular and rectangular shape is characterized by symmetry, simple massing, exterior cut stone, a hip roof and a central cupola which was emblematic of civic buildings of the period.
The rear section of the complex, facing Court Street, was built in two parts, in 1961 and 1978 respectively. The architecture of these sections is typical of the contemporary movement and the styling of the 1960s and 70s. The repetitious vertical movement, exposed concrete and articulated prefabricated blocks, along with a flat roof and simple massing, are characteristic of the period. Both interior and exterior elements are recognized for their heritage value.
Source: Township of Champlain, By-law 2007-47.
Character defining elements that express the heritage value of the section of the complex facing Queen Street include:
- stone foundation
- floor construction
- cut and hammered quarry stone work
- location and size of all door and window openings
- second storey fanlight and transom
- metal hip roof, including slope, battens and orange colour
- central cupola with flagpole
- two inner rear courtyards
- inner court stone walls and circular razor wire
- front porch
- all signage on the property
- iron bars in windows
- dimensions, shape and wood type of all wood structures
- cornice with details
- existing paint colours
- interior wood structure in the attic
- interior stone and brick walls
- interior plaster partition walls
- entire interior layout including position of walls and parapets
- iron jail cell bars
- vaulted brick cells and corridors
- oak and metal doors and hardware
- fixed beds and furniture in jail area
- graffiti and etching in jail area
- existing courtroom layout
- judge and jury's platforms and benches
- all courtroom furniture
- vaulted ceiling in courtroom
- lighting fixtures
Character defining elements that express the heritage value of the section of the complex facing Court Street include:
- exterior materials (stone, concrete blocks, stucco, concrete) and their colour
- size and location of all exterior openings (doors and windows)
- flat roof and parapet
- colour of exterior all exterior architectural elements