Old City Hall
Port Moody Arts Centre
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Old City Hall, now used as the Port Moody Arts Centre, is a landmark institutional building, one and one-half storeys in height with a full basement, situated on its original site on the corner of St. Johns and Kyle Streets, a prominent location in Moody Centre. A stone cairn commemorating the arrival of the first train and the completion of the transcontinental railway is located on the grounds. The sloping site, which rises to the south, gives the building additional prominence.
The Old City Hall is significant as a proud symbol of the origins and incorporation of the City of Port Moody and its subsequent civic development. The city was incorporated in 1913, as a result of great speculative expansion in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Much of this speculation was based on excitement about the impending completion of the long-awaited Panama Canal. The existing districts in the Lower Mainland were being populated rapidly, and smaller sub-districts, especially those with water access, were petitioning the provincial government for incorporation. Port Moody was incorporated at the same time as Port Coquitlam and Fraser Mills, demonstrating the rapid development of these smaller administrative units in and around the Coquitlam area. Built in 1914, the Hall represents the maturation of Port Moody, the struggle for self-governance and the aspirations of its citizens. This structure also provided accommodation for other civic functions, including the police station and fire hall. Its continued use as a community facility represents a long history of public association with this prominent site.
Befitting its civic purpose, the City Hall was designed in an imposing style with a symmetrical main facade facing one of the main streets in the city. It is also significant for its Arts and Crafts style, allied to the typical Craftsman residential vocabulary, which was almost always used locally for municipal halls of the Edwardian era. The use of a common architectural vocabulary allowed the institution to reflect the values and aspirations of the local community. The Arts and Crafts style also demonstrated an allegiance to British legislative antecedents and loyalty to the Mother Country.
The Hall is also significant as an early surviving project by prominent architect, Joseph H. Bowman (1864-1943), who four years earlier had designed a residence for Port Moody's first mayor, Perry Douglas Roe. Bowman's design displays a sophisticated use of proportion and detailing that emphasizes the monumental scale of the building. The symmetrical main facade, grand central entry and prominent front-facing gables all contribute to its imposing appearance.
The building's historic and aesthetic value to the community was recognized when it was one of the first three buildings in Port Moody that were designated as municipal heritage sites in 1978, demonstrating an early commitment to heritage conservation.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of Port Moody
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Old City Hall include its:
- prominent corner location and status as a visual and symbolic landmark
- institutional scale as emphasized by its prominent roof form, symmetrical massing and regular fenestration
- hip roof with cross gables, with cedar shingle roofing
- composed and balanced symmetrical design reflective of Edwardian era sensibilities, including central front and rear entries
- hose-drying tower on west side indicative of early fire hall function and mixed-use design
- the Arts and Crafts influence as exemplified in the use of half-timbering in the gable ends, triangular eave brackets, exposed rafter ends and scroll cut ornamentation at the central entry porch
- original exterior features such as lapped wooden siding, cornerboards and trim
- double-hung wooden-sash 1-over-1 windows
- formal landscaped setting, including a later stone water fountain, dedicated to Salvation Army Envoy H.A. Ungless (1886-1959) and a stone cairn with brass plaque, commemorating the completion of the CPR
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Exhibition Centre
- Town or City Hall
Architect / Designer
Joseph H. Bowman
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, City of Port Moody
Cross-Reference to Collection