Description of Historic Place
Mutchmor Public School is located at 185 Fifth Avenue, on the northwest corner of Lyon Street and Fifth Avenue in the Glebe, a residential neighbourhood south of downtown Ottawa bordered by Dow's Lake and the Rideau Canal. Built in 1895 by the Ottawa architect E. L. Horwood, this two-storey red brick Romanesque Revival school is a landmark building at the heart of the Glebe community.
Mutchmor Public School was designated for its cultural heritage value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act by the City of Ottawa through By-law 43-2000.
As one of three surviving schools constructed during the 1890s Ottawa Public School Board building campaign, Mutchmor Public School is a magnificent example of Romanesque Revival institutional architecture. This charming two-storey red brick structure is a source of civic pride, representing both the growth of the public school system in a time of rapid development and the political role of the Ottawa Public School Board in edifying the City's progress and hopes for the future, at eve of the turn of the century.
In response to the needs of the burgeoning community, the Board purchased a lot in the Glebe at the corner of Mutchmor Street (now Fifth Avenue) and Lyon Street to build an elementary school, and in 1895 commissioned architect E. L. Horwood to design the four room school. Possibly his first Ottawa commission, the accomplished decorative cornice, brickwork and stone trim still visible today are a testament to the attention he paid in the design of this school. Horwood also designed the two other 1890s public schools still in use today, Osgoode (now Franco-Jeunesse) and First Avenue, as well as the 1905 Public Library on Laurier Ave (now demolished).
Later additions in 1911 and 1920 were designed by W.B. Garvock and W.C. Beattie, respectively, each of whom added eight rooms to the school. As Superintendents of School Buildings for the Ottawa Public School Board, they were responsible for most of the pre-1940 school designs in Ottawa.
The Romanesque character of Mutchmor Public School is showcased in the original section of the school, which faces Fifth Avenue. The two-storey brick structure sits upon a rusticated stone foundation, capped by a flat roof hidden by a sloped parapet with bracketed eaves, and punctuated by large windows. Contrasting stone stringcourses, window sills and lintels detail the exterior red fabric, while decorative brickwork such as a dentil course and elaborate corbelling, adorn it. Enhancing the facade is a centrally placed two-storey frontispiece, featuring a round-arched entrance with recessed door, terra cotta impost supporting brick voussoirs, a Palladian window, and wrought iron gates.
The 1911 and 1920 additions both represent good examples of Edwardian Classicism, with balanced facades, pediments over the doorways, and stone trim. Despite being of a somewhat different style, they were consciously adapted to match the original portion of the school, and extend to the north as to not disrupt the overall character and visual integrity of the original facade.
Given its excellent architectural integrity, Mutchmor Public School clearly displays three distinct phases of school architecture in Ottawa, while retaining the original character of the design. The school forms an integral part of the heritage environment of the Glebe, as the southernmost building in a series of prominent institutional structures lining Lyon Street, which includes: the Glebe St. James Church, the former Ottawa Ladies College (now a condominium), the Glebe Community Centre, and Corpus Cristi School. Mutchmor Public School is a landmark structure in the community that complements similar low-rise buildings in the surrounding residential neighbourhood, and continues its function as an elementary school to this day.
Source: City of Ottawa Heritage File PD002-OHD4300/FIFT00185
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Mutchmor Public School include its:
- prominent position on a corner lot
- placement within a series of important community institutions lining Lyon Street
- two-storey red brick massing
- flat roof with high parapet
- regularly proportioned and symmetrical plan and fenestration
- contrasting stone stringcourse, window sills and lintels
- decorative brickwork
- terra cotta imposts
- centrally placed full-storey frontispiece
- rounded arch entrance with wrought iron gates
- Palladian window