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Pacifc Building

1537 Barrington Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/09/17

Pacific Building,main elevation, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1941.; Courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management. Accession Number 1975-350-1941/428
Front Elevation 1941
Pacific Building, main elevation, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2006.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2006.
Front Elevation
No Image

Other Name(s)

Pacifc Building
Former YMCA

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1911/01/01 to 1911/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/07/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Pacific Building is a three storey Neo-classical style commercial building located on the east side of Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, NS. Built as the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) building, it is an excellent expression of the architectural styles that were in vogue for institutional buildings in the early twentieth century. The heritage designation applies to the building and the land it occupies.

Heritage Value

The Pacific Building is valued for its association with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Halifax Explosion, and its architects.

The Pacific Building was constructed in 1911 as the Young Men’s Christian Association. It was the first YMCA in Halifax and it played a significant role in the community as a non-profit health and social service organization. Its role was especially significant in the days and months following the Halifax Explosion in 1917 when the building was used as a make-shift hospital.

The Pacific Building was designed in a style similar to many other YMCAs built during this period. The architects, Jackson and Rosencrans of New York, also designed YMCA buildings in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal.

Architecturally, the Pacific Building is valued for its Neo-classical institutional building style and its bold use of white terra cotta cladding over brick construction, which is relatively rare in Halifax. Overall, the scale and proportion, arrangement of bays and variety of windows are in keeping with the character of the downtown area. Although the building exterior has been significantly altered on the ground floor, the essence of the original architectural design can still be seen in the upper storeys. The façade is divided into three, vertically proportioned bays, with the centre bay deeply recessed behind a low balustrade at the first floor level. Corners are strongly articulated by coursed terra cotta quoins. The classical design is emphasized by large round-headed windows on the second storey, and the vertical arrangement of windows in each bay is subtly framed and emphasized by surface paneling. Originally, there was a prominent storefront cornice spanning the width of the building at the first floor level above tall display windows, the recessed entrance was framed by paired classical columns; and there was prominent, dentiled cornice at the roofline. These features have been removed in subsequent renovations.

Source: HRM Heritage Property File: 1537 Barrington Street, Pacific Building, Former YMCA

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Pacific Building relate to its Neo-classical style and include:
- symmetrical façade design;
- three-bay massing, with centre bay recessed on upper storeys;
- white terra cotta cladding and surface panelling;
- recessed, central entrance;
- vertically proportioned sash windows in singles and pairs on upper storeys;
- semi-circular blind arches over three second storey windows, with large escutcheon in centre arch and smaller medallions in flanking arches;
- low balustrade at first floor level in centre bay, repeated as decorative, window sill elements in flanking bays;
- terra cotta quoins at corners;
- string courses and decorative frieze on top storeys.



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
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building
Multiple Dwelling


Recreation Centre
Group Residence

Architect / Designer

Jackson and Rosencrans



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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