Links and documents
1892/01/01 to 1894/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Petrolia's Old Post Office, construction completed in the spring of 1894, is located on the town's main street, the Petrolia Line. The three storey, Romanesque style, brick structure has a variety of attractive architectural features. It served as the community post office until 1964, when a new post office was constructed.
The structure was designated by the Town of Petrolia under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-Law 1997-16) for its cultural and architectural value.
The Old Post Office has served the Town of Petrolia through a variety of functions since the 1890s. Initially, the Post Office and Offices of Inland Revenue and Customs were on the main floor; the residence of the Postmaster was on the second floor; and the residence of the caretaker was on the third floor. An annex was added to the south side of the building, which served as a warehouse for Customs purposes and the collection of Provincial and Federal taxes. Eventually the second storey was converted to office space while the caretaker continued to live on the premises. The Petrolia Legion utilized space in the Old Post Office until the completion of its own facilities on King Street. After WWI, one of the small back rooms was converted into a “Militia Room.” A variety of important government institutions have used the Old Post Office.
In 1964, post office operations were relocated to new facilities and a number of commercial establishments have operated there since. Most recently, the building was purchased by Lambton County Development Services, an agency that provides employment, housing, and other services to individuals with development disabilities in Lambton County. Renovations began in 2008, and the Old Post Office reopened with affordable housing for six tenants and several commercial enterprises to help generate revenue for the LCDS (including a catering business, a gift shop, and an ice cream shop). The Old Post Office retains its familiar moniker, as it is known and loved by residents of Petrolia, and continues to serve an important function for the community, albeit of a different flavour.
Construction of the Old Post Office began in January, 1892. London architect Thomas Fuller submitted the design and was awarded the Federal commission. As a result of Fuller's award and design, numerous similar structures were built during the 1890s in other towns throughout South-western Ontario. Joshua Garrett of Petrolia was the building's principal contractor. The rich architectural features and elegance of the building reflect Petrolia's affluence during the oil boom. Its Romanesque style is evident through the use of rusticated stone and red brick, and the bold employment of the “Romanesque Arch.”
Source: Town of Petrolia Municipal Office: By-law No. 16 of 1997.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Old Post Office include its:
- Romanesque style of civic architecture, uniquely North American and made popular by American architect H.H. Richardson
- “Romanesque Arch” (round-headed arches over doors and windows)
- rusticated stone and red brick
- smooth, wide brackets under the eaves
- restored interior curved oak staircase
- restored stone and brickwork throughout the building
- restored original windows
- prominent location downtown
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
1964/01/01 to 1964/01/01
2008/01/01 to 2008/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Customs Building
- Multiple Dwelling
- Post Office
Architect / Designer
London architect Thomas Fuller
Contractor Joshua Garrett of Petrolia
Location of Supporting Documentation
Town of Petrolia Municipal Office. Photocopies of pertinent information also on file at the Oil Museum of Canada.
Cross-Reference to Collection