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Guelph City Hall National Historic Site of Canada

59 Carden Street, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1984/11/23

Corner view of Guelph City Hall, showing the façade with the main entrance and a second façade, 1990.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1990.
General view
Detailed view of Guelph City Hall, showing its Italianate detailing, including quoins at openings and corners, 1995.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, J. Butterill, 1995.
Detailed view
Exterior view of Guelph City Hall, showing its Italianate detailing, including a central, Venetian window, ornamental balconies, a string course delineating stories, 1995.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, J. Butterill, 1995.
Exterior view

Other Name(s)

Guelph City Hall National Historic Site of Canada
Guelph City Hall
Hôtel de ville de Guelph

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1856/01/01 to 1857/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Guelph City Hall is a two-storey, limestone building built in 1856-7 in the Renaissance Revival style, and enlarged in 1875. It is prominently located in the downtown area of the city of Guelph, across the street from the train station. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property at the time of designation.

Heritage Value

Guelph City Hall was designated a national historic site in 1984 because it is an example of a multi-functional city hall; it symbolized the city's confidence in its future; and the smoothly dressed stonework and delicate carving of the exterior design provide an elegant and refined example of civic architecture in a classical style.

Guelph City Hall was erected, along with other prominent local buildings, during the mid-19th-century period of pride and prosperity that followed the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway service to the community. It is an excellent example of a mid-19th-century, multi-functional civic building, combining the functions of a market, fire hall, police office and jail, library, a reading room for the Mechanics Institute, a large public hall along with town offices and a council chamber in a single building. Designed by prominent Toronto architect William Thomas and built by Morrison and Emslie with an 1875 addition by George Netting, Guelph City Hall is one of Ontario's finer examples of the mid-19th-century Renaissance Revival style, a classical style based on 16th-century Italian precedents. The carved detailing of the façade were supervised by well-known artisan Matthew Bell.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1984.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements which relate to the heritage value of Guelph City Hall include:

- its monumental scale and rectangular massing;
- its classical design in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, notably its symmetrically organized façade with slightly projecting, pedimented central pavilion, its low-pitched, hipped roof, regularly placed openings, smooth, finely cut ashlar exterior, and Italianate detailing;
- its Italianate detailing, including a central, Venetian window, ornamental balconies, a string course delineating stories, heavily vermiculated voussoirs and quoins at openings and corners, a carved keystone, pedimented lintels, applied pilasters, a bracketed cornice;
- its facing with smoothly dressed ashlar blocks of Guelph limestone;
- surviving remnants of its original U-shaped plan interior layout reflecting its multi-functional use;
- its central location in the city and its direct relationship to the railway station across the street.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1984/11/23

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1875/01/01 to 1875/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Commerce / Commercial Services
Market
Leisure
Library
Government
Fire Station
Government
Office or office building
Government
Police Station
Government
Town or City Hall

Architect / Designer

William Thomas

Builder

Morrison and Emslie

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

377

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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