Description of Historic Place
Postal Station B, also known as the Central Post Office, is an eight-storey building in Ottawa’s Confederation Square National Historic Site of Canada. Classically inspired, its cornice heights and its bay replicate those of its neighbour, Langevin Block. The building is constructed of smooth stone, and has a Château-style copper roof, and handsome bronze doors guarded by two stone lions. Its façades are further distinguished by classical regularity and honed-down surface treatment, typical of Art Deco sensibility. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Postal Station B is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Postal Station B was constructed as a postal substation, between 1938 and 1939, as part of the Confederation Square redevelopment. It is associated with the Diamond Jubilee of the Confederation celebrations in 1927, when the federal government implemented a massive redevelopment of downtown Ottawa. The new post office was crucial in the redesigning of the eastern end of Ottawa’s central business district, and it has become the main centre for the delivery of all postal services for the downtown core.
Postal Station B is a very good example of the Classical and Château styles used in civic buildings during the 1930s. The building’s roof was imposed by a political preference for large copper roofs, often in the Château Style, and its smooth stone face and minimal decoration reflect the simplified character of classicism during the early 20th century. Its very good functional quality is shown in the excellent craftsmanship and materials used in the exterior construction, as well as the rich treatment of the public spaces within. The building remains one of the best examples of the architect W.E. Noffke’s work.
Postal Station B is a significant and creative work of architecture that makes an important contribution to the character of Confederation Square and the Sparks Street Mall. The unchanged integrity of the historical relationship between the building and its surrounding urban landscape helps to establish the present character of the area. As the oldest federal building in Ottawa devoted to local use and as part of Confederation Square National Historic Site of Canada, it is a very familiar landmark in the city and across Canada.
Sources: Postal Station B, 47-59 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 85-014; Postal Station B, 47-59 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 85-014.
The character-defining elements of Postal Station B should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design, and excellent craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- its eight-storey steel-frame massing, sheathed in Queenston limestone on a black granite base;
- the steeply-pitched copper roof pierced with dormers in the Château style;
- the smooth stone facing with minimal decoration;
- the extensive classical detailing throughout its carvings, including a Royal coat of arms above the main entrance, provincial coats of arms on its surrounds, and the lions at each of the entrances;
- the Beaux-Arts elements, including colonnades, rusticated stone front, and the traditional tripartite division of the elevation into base, piano nobile, and entablature;
- the rich treatment of the public spaces within.
The manner in which Postal Station B establishes the present character of its urban setting and is an architectural and heritage landmark, as evidenced by:
- its location within Confederation Square National Historic Site of Canada and at the eastern entrance of Sparks Street Mall;
- its design, function and location, which makes it a very familiar landmark in Ottawa for residents and tourists.