Description of Historic Place
The Slater Building stands on the north side of Sparks Street in the core of the Ottawa business district. It is an attractive, three-storey, stone-fronted building distinguished by arched windows, sandstone columns, decorative brickwork and stone detailing. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Slater Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Slater Building is associated with the commercial development of Sparks Street westward towards Bank Street in the late-19th century. Constructed as a speculative investment by Ottawa grocer, Robert and Esther Slater, long-prominent members of the Ottawa elite since the latter was the daughter of Nicholas Sparks from the notable Ottawa family. Initially rented out as 14 small offices, the Slater Building reflects the commercial development of Sparks Street westward to Bank in the late nineteenth century.
The Slater Building is valued for its very good aesthetics as an imaginative eclectic design showing Romanesque influence. The quality of the building’s design and rehabilitation by the Public Works Commission gives the building an attractive appearance, which the City of Ottawa recognized by awarding the building a certificate of merit in 1983. It exhibits good functional design, craftsmanship and materials.
The Slater Building reinforces the commercial character of its central business district setting in Ottawa and is familiar to local residents, people working in the vicinity and pedestrians.
Sources: Dana Johnson, Nineteen Federally owned Properties - Sparks Street, Slater Building, 181-183 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 85-027; Slater Building, 181-183 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 85-027.
The following character-defining elements of the Slater Building should be respected.
Its very good Romanesque design elements, good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the three-storey massing of the symmetrical façade;
-the ground storey with large, glazed shop fronts clasped by rusticated stone pillars at either end;
-the first floor that features three windows separated by paired columns with carved capitals, the side openings surmounted by carved stone panels and the middle window divided by an unusual stylized carved sandstone column;
-the brick corbelling and stone stringcourse above;
-the second storey including four arched windows with brick keys, curved voussoirs and stone imposts and a complex arrangement of brick corbelling;
-the decorative brickwork that rises to a projecting cornice.
The manner in which the Slater Building reinforces the commercial character of its central business district setting in Ottawa, and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
-its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the surrounding buildings and the Sparks Street streetscape;
-its familiarity to visitors, passing pedestrians, and local residents.