Description of Historic Place
The Bank of Montreal Building is located at the corner of Victoria Street and LaPlanche Street in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It is situated directly at the street line and it is one of a number of buildings built on a large scale on this block. The building is constructed of local red sandstone and incorporates several Classical elements into its simple, symmetrical facade. The provincial designation applies to the building and property.
The Bank of Montreal Building is valued as an example of commercial architecture typical for turn-of-the-twentieth century Nova Scotia and as a key property in the surrounding streetscape.
The Amherst Bank of Montreal Building was designed by the well-known architect J.C. Dumaresq, whose work also includes the New Brunswick Legislature Building. Tenders for the bank’s construction were called in 1904 and awarded to the local company of Rhodes & Curry. The Bank of Montreal closed its Amherst branch in 1944 and the building was acquired by the Central Trust Company of Canada. More recently, it housed the town’s police force and it is now privately owned.
The Bank of Montreal Building is constructed of local red sandstone in the Classic Revival tradition, with some Romanesque Revival elements. While relatively simple, the exterior incorporates several Classical elements, such as the large pediment over the centre bay, free standing columns on either side of the principal entrance, pronounced corner pilasters and a deep frieze. The roundheaded windows on the front facade and along the side elevation borrow from the Romanesque Revival style, and convey the spirit of a monumental hall of commerce. This sense is reinforced in the interior of the building, which is divided into two portions. There is a large open hall in the front half of the building, complimented by the Romanesque windows, and smaller offices in the rear portion of the building.
This building is a landmark in Amherst, situated at a busy downtown corner. To the southwest of the building are three other large buildings- the former Amherst Dominion Public Building, the First Baptist Church and the Old Amherst Post Office. Other buildings of a similar size, age, material or design on Victoria Street include the former Royal Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia buildings and the County Courthouse. A cluster of stone buildings on this scale is unusual in Nova Scotia, and together, this streetscape speaks to the wealth and rapid growth of Amherst in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Source: Notice of Registration of Property as a Provincial Heritage Property, Provincial Property Heritage File no. 213.
Character-defining elements of the architecture of the Bank of Montreal Building include:
All Classical Revival architecture elements, such as
- its rectangular form, creating a large unobstructed interior space;
- the symmetrical front facade with a large pediment over the central bay;
- free standing columns on either side of the principal entrance;
- pronounced corner pilasters and deep frieze.
All Romanesque Revival architecture elements, such as
- the roundheaded windows on the Victoria Street and LaPlanche Street facades;
- the use of heavy, rough textured masonry;
- the heavy window sills.
Character-defining elements of the Bank of Montreal Building relating to the context of the surrounding streetscape include:
- its construction in a distinctive local red sandstone;
- the building's mass and siting at the streetline, which is similar to other buildings on the street.