419-423 Sussex Drive
Robinson Fashion House
Maison de la mode Robinson
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The 419-423 Sussex Drive located in downtown Ottawa, also known as the Superior Upholstery or Robinson Fashion House, is a handsome, three-storey commercial building with Italianate detailing. Constructed in brick it is seven bays wide and features large round-headed windows above and large shop windows at street level. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The 419-423 Sussex Drive is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The 419-423 Sussex Drive is a good example of a building associated with the commercial development of Ottawa in the late 19th century. After a brief initial period as a hotel, commercial tenants occupied the building’s ground floor. The building suffered a serious fire in 1920 which resulted in the removal of the fourth storey and cornice. The National Council Commission used the remaining portion of the building for commercial purposes until its expropriation in 1963. The Commission maintained the commercial tenancy and undertook a rehabilitation of the street façade.
The 419-423 Sussex Drive is valued for its good aesthetics. This now truncated, three-storey commercial structure is a stylistically harmonious, if unassuming, component of the contemporary Sussex Drive streetscape. Good functional design is evidenced in the ground floor configuration that accommodates commercial activity. Very good craftsmanship is seen in the brickwork and the stone arcading. The building is one of two surviving structures on the block that marked the northern extremity of the Sussex Drive commercial district.
The 419-423 Sussex Drive reinforces the historic/commercial character of its streetscape setting in downtown Ottawa. It is a familiar local landmark to local residents, and pedestrians.
Sources: Ivan J. Saunders, 419 23 Sussex Drive, 425- 431 Sussex Drive, and 7 Murrat Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office, Reports 83-018, 19, 20; The Superior Upholstery Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 83-018.
The following character-defining elements of the 419-423 Sussex Drive should be respected.
Its good aesthetic design, functional design and quality craftsmanship, for example:
-the three-storey massing of the symmetrical façade;
-the exterior walls of red brick with yellow brick and stone detailing;
-the division of the façade into decorative piers and belting in contrasting yellow brick, stone arcading and large round-headed shop windows on the ground floor;
-the segmentally-arched windows with hooded stone voussoirs on the second storey;
-the interior spatial arrangement of the principal interior spaces.
The manner in which the 419-423 Sussex Drive reinforces the historic and commercial character of its streetscape setting in Ottawa and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
-its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship with the adjacent commercial buildings and complement the Sussex Drive streetscape;
-its familiarity to visitors due to its size and location near the National Gallery of Canada and Notre Dame Basilica.
Government of Canada
Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection