Description of Historic Place
The Old Gymnasium, also known as Building No. 25, faces the athletic field along the east side of the historic parade square precinct at the Royal Military College (RMC) campus in Kingston. The long, gable-roofed brick building has large windows and classical details in wood and limestone. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Old Gymnasium is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Old Gymnasium is closely associated with the development of Kingston’s Royal Military College, and more particularly with the development of physical training and exhibition as an integral part of Canadian military education. The aim of the college was to produce a “scientific class of officers fit for senior militia appointments”, through the combination of a rigid academic schedule with a highly disciplined athletic program. The construction of the gymnasium marked an important step in this development.
The Old Gymnasium is valued for its very good aesthetic design, which draws on classical symmetry, balance, and simplicity, all of which are characteristic of military architecture. The very good functional design of the structural system follows functional guidelines for buildings of this type, and creates an interior, column-free space that provides the appropriate levels of natural light with its large, regularly spaced windows.
The Old Gymnasium is located along the east side of the quad at the campus and maintains an unchanged relationship to its site. The building reinforces the character of its parade square precinct setting and is familiar to those who live and work at, or frequent the campus.
Sources:Joan Mattie, former Riding School, Buildings #3, #5, and #36, Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 93-99; Former Riding School, Riding Instruction Building, Building #3, Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 93-99.
The following character-defining elements of the Old Gymnasium should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design, and good craftsmanship and materials,
-the rectangular massing of the large gable-roofed structure;
-the standing seam metal roof with three symmetrically disposed gables on each principle façade;
-the exterior which is composed of a limestone base and a red brick superstructure with
limestone decorative elements;
-the structural system that consists of wide-span, wood-and-cast-iron-modified king-post
trusses to create a column-free space;
-the large, regularly spaced windows;
-the interior layout, materials and finish.
The manner in which the Old Gymnasium maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the parade square precinct setting, and is a familiar building, as evidenced by:
-its ongoing relationship to its surrounding open, flat space, facing the athletic fields and backing onto the St. Lawrence Pier;
-its simple massing and detailing that provides a consistent vocabulary with the earlier Stone Frigate dormitory and the other adjacent buildings which together define the character of the parade square precinct;
-its visibility, given its prominent location and large scale;
-its familiarity as part of a grouping of historic buildings, and as a venue for ceremonial and public events.