Description of Historic Place
Kirk Place is a three storey brick commercial building located on Main Street in Antigonish, NS. It was built in 1883 in the Italianate Commercial style. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
Kirk Place is valued because it is one of the first large department stores built in Nova Scotia and among the few surviving examples of the Italianate Commercial style in the province.
Construction began on Kirk Place in 1883 and was opened the following year under the name, Kirk Block, after its owner Adam Kirk. Of Scottish descent, Kirk started his business career as a clerk and later as a partner of the Antigonish merchant Duncan Grant. After Grant's death, he continued his mercantile activities, expanding into the small loan business on a major scale. By the early 1880s Kirk had amassed sufficient capital to construct Kirk Block, one of the first large department stores in the province. From it he sold hardware, clothing, boots and shoes, household goods and groceries. Also merchandise could be ordered by mail and telegraph.
After Adam Kirk's death, his sons, under the same name of A. Kirk & Company, continued the business. In turn, they were succeeded by Kennedy, McDonald & Company. Various mercantile enterprises have since been located in the building.
In what can be described as the dominating style of the fifth epoch of commercial building development in Canada, Kirk Place is marked by the use of design elements of the Italianate Commericial: a three-storey brick building, flat roof, glazed ground floor facade, and round segmental-arched windows. Popular in Canadian cities from 1870 to 1880 and then in smaller centres, this style was mostly used for office buildings than for merchandizing outlets. Thus, Kirk Place (later renamed this from Kirk Block by its present owners) is one of the few Italianate Commercial style buildings erected and still in use on the main streets of the province.
It is currently used for office and retail space.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 74, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements relating to the Italianate Commercial style of Kirk Place include:
- three-storey brick construction with iron structural columns and projecting cornice;
- facade divided into three floors vertically and three bays horizontally, creating a refined symmetrical balance;
- flat roof;
- glazed ground floor facade;
- round segmental-arched windows;
- windows surmounted by decorative stone lintels, hoods and keystones;
- coursed sandstone quoins are used at the corners and between the structural bays on the facade;
- the name Kirk Block and the date of erection (1883) are carved into the sandstone quoins at the northwest corner;
- central location and siting immediately at the streetline in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.