Links and documents
1920/01/01 to 1920/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Halifax Relief Commission Building is a two-and-a-half storey Hydrostone structure located in a unique commercial streetscape on the corner of Young and Isleville Streets in the North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The heritage designation applies to the building and the land it occupies.
The Halifax Relief Commission Building is valued for its association with the 1917 Halifax Explosion, the rebuilding program that followed, and for its unique Hydrostone architecture.
On December 6, 1917 two ships collided in a section of the Halifax Harbour known as the Narrows. One of the ships was carrying explosives and the resulting blast devastated much of the North End of Halifax and flattened wooden buildings on both sides of the Narrows. Those buildings that were not destroyed by the force of the explosion were destroyed by fires caused by overturned stoves. The explosion killed 1,600 people and wounded 9,000. The explosion also caused roughly thirty-five million dollars damage. The rebuilding of the North End included one of the first planned housing projects in Canada and the most ambitious utilization of concrete blocks undertaken at that time.
Planned by Thomas Adams and designed by George Ross, the Halifax Relief Commission Building is part of a neighbourhood, known as the Hydrostrone, which is a unique architectural district reflective of the stylish English Garden City design. Hydrostone was chosen as the building material as it is stronger than wood, and more fire resistant. The block that the commission building sits on is split by a service road at the rear of the buildings and the unit faces a narrow one way street. A large beautiful treed green space separates this block from the next. The Halifax Relief Commission Building originally housed the offices of the commission that was established immediately following the explosion to administer the millions of dollars donated by people around the world for the victims of the explosion. The money was used to provide food and shelter for the victims, and eventually to rebuild neighbourhoods and provide compensation.
Architecturally, the Halifax Relief Commission Building is valued for its construction material, design and style. Hydrostone is named after the trade name of the hollow concrete block made in Eastern Passage, NS. Hydrostone was used as the primary building material. Locally the Hydrostone architectural style has come to mean buildings that are part of the planned neighbourhood that are made of hydrostone made to look like wood and plaster with a Tudor or English Cottage style. It compliments the Halifax Relief Commission Building at the other end of the street; both buildings anchor the commercial section of the neighbourhood.
Source: Heritage Property File: 5555 Young Street, Halifax Relief Commission Building, found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The character-defining elements of the Halifax Relief Commission Building relate to its Hydrostone style and include:
- hydrostone building materials;
- Tudor style on second floor;
- two dormers on front and rear;
- two single dormers on each side with a double dormer in between;
- six-over-six windows dormer windows;
- eight-over-one on second floor;
- first storey windows have three panes to narrow with a wider one in the middle with transom panes above;
- symmetrical formation.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Building Social and Community Life
- Community Organizations
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
HRM Planning and Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1
Cross-Reference to Collection