Description of Historic Place
The former Caledonia Town Hall is located at 80 Caithness Street East, in the community of Caledonia, in Haldimand County. Constructed in 1857, the two storey brick building was designed in the Greek Revival style.
The property is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement agreement. It was also designated, by the former Town of Haldimand, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 304-82).
Caledonia Town Hall is associated with the civic development of rural Ontario communities in the nineteenth century. The Village of Caledonia was created in 1844 from the Townships of Seneca and Oneida, which lay on opposite sides of the Grand River. Caledonia's prosperity came from the lumbering industry and the numerous mills that sprang up after the dams were built on the Grand River in 1840. By 1850 lumbering was in decline but the village's river transportation and bridges allowed the community to export wool and wheat to the surrounding area. In 1853 Caledonia was incorporated into a Town and during the mid 1850s machinery manufacturing became the town's primary industry.
Set well back from the street and located in Edinburgh Square, Caledonia Town Hall is located within the historic heart of the community and remains at the centre of public life. A Second World War memorial commemorating Canadian soldiers is located adjacent to Caledonia Town Hall, near the historic commercial downtown area, a public park, the Grand River and the Argyle Street Bridge.
The Caledonia Town Hall was built in 1857 to serve the civic needs of the growing town. The multi-functional building contained an indoor meat market and jail in the basement, apartment quarters for the town's constable on the ground floor, and space for council meetings and community events. Use of the building declined in the twentieth century, with only the main floor remaining in use for council meetings. In 1974, a proposal to tear down the building elicited a public outcry from local residents. The hall was saved and designated, by the Municipality, under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1982. In 1988 it reopened as the Edinburgh Square Heritage and Cultural Centre, which displays exhibits of local history and cultural heritage.
Caledonia Town Hall is an example of the Neoclassical style used for a public building. Constructed in 1857, it was designed by architect John Turner, in a form resembling a Roman temple. The front gabled structure uses red brick in Flemish bond and is built on a raised foundation of coursed limestone rubble. Buff brick pilasters in common bond divide the building's length into five equal bays. The stone capitals are surmounted by a large wooden entablature with dentil trim and the classical pediments enclose the gable ends. The front and rear façades have three round-headed single-hung sash windows, framed by joint brick pilasters and moulded stone arches resting on a projecting stone sill with corbels. Stone steps laid into the foundation lead up to the hall's front entrance. The roof is adorned with a large wood, octagonal cupola, with four round headed louvered windows with keystone decorations. The louvered openings are separated by pairs of pilasters and the entire structure is capped with a copper roof with a copper finial on a moulded cornice. Two triple flue, buff brick chimneys are located on the sides at the rear end of the building.
The front entrance is a round headed doorway with sidelights and a panelled blind fanlight. Buff brick voussoirs with carved stone keystone decorate the entrance and two flanking round headed windows with stone lug sills. Two buff brick pilasters frame the sides of the front and rear façades. The ground storey windows on the side elevations have the same design as those on the front façade, while the upper storey windows are rectangular and have stone pediment lintels and stone lug sills. The interior wooden window surrounds resemble their exterior casing, mirroring their respective pediment mouldings and joint pilaster jambs in the interior frame designs.
Source: Caledonia Town Hall Ontario Heritage Trust Easement, 1982.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Caledonia Town Hall include its:
- Neoclassical style and architectural form similar to Roman temples
- raised, coursed limestone rubble foundation
- front gabled red brick structure in stretcher bond and mass volume of walls in Flemish bond
- buff brick pilasters in common bond with stone capitals
- large wood entablature with dentil trim and classical pediments on the gabled façades
- three large round headed single-hung sash windows on the second storey, framed by joint brick pilasters and moulded stone arches on the front and rear elevations
- projecting stone sills with corbels for the upper storey joint windows
- arched doorway with sidelights and a paneled blind fanlight on the front entrance
- buff brick voussoirs with vermiculated keystone decorating the entrance
- two flanking round headed windows with stone lug sills on the ground storey
- front steps which is part of the foundation, leading up to the main entrance
- two buff brick pilasters framing the front and rear façades
- round headed, ground storey windows with stone lug sills on the five-bay side elevations
- upper storey rectangular windows with stone pediment lintels and stone lug sills
- large octagonal wood cupola located near the front façade with four round-arched louvered windows with a wood keystone decoration
- cupola louvers flanked by pairs of pilasters on the other four faces
- cupola capped with a moulded cornice and copper roof with finial
- two triple flue brick chimneys located on the sides of the building's rear
- wood window surrounds with a pediment design of the upper storey windows
- wood window surrounds with pilasters of the tripartite windows on the front and rear elevations
- location in Edinburgh Square
- proximity to Argyle Street
- proximity to the historic Argyle Street Bridge
- siting in the historic commercial centre of Caledonia