22-26 Oxford Street, Guelph
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
22-26 Oxford Street, Guelph, Ontario.
Built circa 1872, it is one of four municipally designated buildings in close proximity to each other, each with its own distinctive details, resulting in a pleasing streetscape of preserved buildings representative of Guelph's early residential development.
Designated by the City of Guelph under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, March 18, 199, By -Law No. 91-13769.
The heritage value of 22-26 Oxford Street is captured socially, historically, aesthetically/architecturally, and contextually.
22-26 Oxford Street is one of four residences that housed the merchants, medical doctors, factory owners, civic leaders, a senator and notable artists of early Guelph.
Historically this residence was the home of Hugh Walker, a local grocer, fruit merchant and alderman who was born 1836 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and immigrated to Canada at the age of 19. Working as a clerk and subsequent partner of George Warren, a grocery merchant in Guelph, Mr. Walker by 1861 established his own business. At that time, no one in Guelph handled imported goods so Mr. Walker developed that avenue, expanding into a fruit trade business as well.
By 1906, he was concentrating on the wholesale partnership with his son, having disposed of the grocery aspect. He retired in 1913. His civic duties included membership in the St. Andrew's Society from 1857, becoming its president in 1878. At the time of his death, he had been the oldest living member of the Masonic Lodge and Odd Fellows in Guelph. Possessed of a fine singing voice, he acted as precentor/choirmaster for a number of Presbyterian churches over a 33 year period from 1855. He was keenly interested in civic administration, representing St. Andrew's Ward for 5 years as alderman and in 1901 was a candidate for the Guelph mayoralty.
The historic value of this property is magnified by its association with Matthew Bell (1820-1883), a local builder, architect and sculptor. Matthew Bell is recognized for a number of richly ornamented stone houses in Guelph including 40 Albert Street, 49 Albert Street, and 96-98 Water Street (a nationally recognized building for its distinctive series of eight carved stone heads adorning the north-east gable). The architectural details of these houses closely resemble those of 22-26 Oxford, and are the basis for the association.
In 1877, the trustees of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church purchased the Oxford Street home of Hugh Walker, their precentor, to be the residence of the Rev. James Cowie Smith. At this time it became known as "The Manse". It was sold in 1900 to Edmund P. Hawkins, general manager of the Bell Organ & Piano Company. Manufacturer John Mitchell and Dr. Thomas J. McNally, the Medical Officer of Health, were some of the subsequent owners.
This well proportioned two-storey limestone house is characteristic of Italianate architectural style with its rich carved stone ornamentation. The carved stone details are attributed to Matthew Bell, known for the fine sculptural decoration in his buildings. The central projecting entrance bay extending the full two storeys topped by a front facing gable typifies the Italianate style. The large moulded cornice brackets, carved segmented arched hood mouldings over the windows and the segmented transom all contribute to the architectural and aesthetic value of this property.
On the interior the twelve-foot ceilings display intact cove mouldings, an original fireplace and hard wood flooring in the principal rooms. Hand hewn beams were used in the construction and remain visible in the basement.
22-26 Oxford St. is in close proximity with three other municipally designated buildings, each with its own distinctive architectural details, resulting in a historically cohesive streetscape representing early Guelph residential development.
Sources: City of Guelph: City of Guelph L.A.C.A.C. Committee Publication 'Designated Buildings and Structures of Architectural and Historic Interest in the City of Guelph 1977-1994.' 1994
The key character-defining elements attributed to the social value of 22 Oxford street:
-limestone building material
The architectural elements and ornamentation contributing to the aesthetic/architectural values include:
-projecting entrance bay with gable roof and bracketed eaves
-central double door with transom, topped by a large segmental pediment of carved limestone
-windows embellished with arched lintels and carved stone trim
-facade and projecting frontispiece highlighted with raised quoins of matching stone
-the large pediments have been carved from a single block of limestone Interior:
-twelve-foot ceilings with decorative intact cove mouldings
-oak floors in principal rooms
-original panelling in window wells
-original double sash windows
-one original fireplace surround is in place on an east exterior wall
-evidence of another fireplace remains on the westerly exterior wall
-hand-hewn beams/floor joists in basement
-hot water system featuring radiators
The character-defining elements reflecting the contextual value are:
-its close proximity with three other municipally designated buildings, each with its own distinctive architectural details
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
1877/01/01 to 1900/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
Function - Category and Type
- Multiple Dwelling
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Designation Documentation file - Planning Department -City Hall-City of Guelph / City of Guelph L.A.C.A.C. Committee Publication "Designated Buildings & Structures of Architectural & Historic Interest in the City of Guelph 1977-1994." (1994)
Cross-Reference to Collection