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Geldert (Old Bowes)

5136 - 5138 Prince Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/02/03

Geldert (Old Bowes), Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1997.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 1997.
Front Elevation
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Other Name(s)

Geldert (Old Bowes)
Old Bowes Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1862/01/01 to 1862/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Geldert building, also known as the Old Bowes Building, is a four-storey corner building located in Downtown Halifax, NS, close to the waterfront area. The building, constructed in 1862, is part of a block containing many other heritage buildings of the same era, design and proportions. The building's Victorian features are strongly influenced by classical design such as rows of arches on the first storey with pilasters and segmentally arched windows. The designation applies to the building and the land it occupies.

Heritage Value

The Geldert (Old Bowes) building is valued for is association with the Confederation era of Halifax, for its architecture and its contribution to the “Brick District” of Downtown Halifax.

The Geldert building was erected in 1862, constructed of brick and granite. Following a 1857 fire, the City of Halifax prohibited the building of wood structures. As a result, the developing commercial district of the Prince and Hollis Streets area became known as the “Brick District” for its high concentration of brick structures; a direct impact of the changes in the building code. The building serves as a significant anchor to this area as it is located on a highly visible and corner.

The building is also valued for the role its occupants played in pre-Confederation Halifax. Grocer John Morris Geldert was the first owner of the building. Geldert purchased the land in 1853 and was able to finance construction in 1862. He retained ownership until 1887. Other firms, including a newspaper publisher and printer occupied the building. The Geldert building is also known as the “Old Bowes” because of James Bowes and Sons, printers and publishers. They moved into the building in 1869 and remained there well into the 1900s. Bowes was highly regarded as a printer and handled many important printing jobs. As well, many political figures of the time resided in the upper stories of the building. The Honourable Samuel Leonard Shannon lived in the Geldert building from 1869 until the 1890s. Shannon represented Halifax County in the Provincial Legislature and was strongly in favour of Confederation. He was appointed to the Queen's Counsel, a judge of probate for the County of Halifax and professor of law at Dalhousie University. Other political notables were H. G. Pineo, who became a member of the first Canadian Parliament in 1867 and Senator Lawrence Geoffrey Power who was a well-known writer and Senator.

The building is valued for its relatively unchanged Victorian design and strong Classical influence. It is predominantly made of brick with a base of granite. It has a hip roof with a shed dormer on the front of the facade and segmentally arched windows. The windows are embellished with sandstone keystones, lugsills, and a leaf motif on the recessed head of each window. There is a moulded string course between the first two storeys and the upper two and first storey, granite columns. The intact architecture and strong historical associations of the Geldert building makes it an excellent reminder of pre-Confederation years in the city.

Source: HRM Heritage Property File Prince & Hollis Street Buildings, Founder’s Square - General Heritage, 5136 - 5138 Prince Street, Geldert (Old Bowes) found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Geldert (Old Bowes) related to its Classically influenced Victorian design and include:

- red brick dominant construction material;
- square granite columns on the ground level;
- hip roof with a shed dormer on the front facade;
- segmentally arched windows with radiating voussoirs, sandstone keystones, lugsills and a leaf motif on the recessed head of each window;
- moulded string course between the first and second storey;
- brick arches forming the base of the first storey;
- centrally located in Downtown Halifax.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

HRM Planning and Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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