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Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall National Historic Site of Canada

411 Greenfield Street, Petrolia, Ontario, N0N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1975/11/28

Corner view of the Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall, showing the front and side elevations, 1991.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1991.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall National Historic Site of Canada
Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall
Victoria Hall / hôtel de ville de Petrolia
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
Théâtre Victoria de Petrolia

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1887/01/01 to 1889/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall National Historic Site of Canada is a fanciful, mid-sized town hall building with a prominent clock tower. Built of buff brick in the late 19th century, its design follows the tradition of late-Victorian eclecticism. Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall is located in Petrolia’s historic downtown amongst other brick buildings constructed in the late 19th century. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property.

Heritage Value

Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1975 because, built in 1889 in the midst of an oil boom, this opulent town hall reflects this stage in the town’s growth.

Built in the late 1880s at the height of Petrolia’s oil boom, Victoria Hall reflects a time when Petrolia was among the wealthiest towns in Canada. Oil was first discovered in the 1860s and the village became a town in 1874. By the 1880s, permanent brick buildings had replaced the small wooden structures of the early boom years. The construction of the town hall was the highlight of this phase of permanent construction.

Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall was built to house multiple civic functions, including a jail in the basement; municipal offices, council chamber, court room, fire department and armoury on the first floor, and a 1000-seat opera house on the upper floor. The town’s insistence that an opera house be incorporated in the new town hall reflects Petrolia’s late-19th century affluence. The oil boom had created a class of wealthy businessmen who demanded entertainment appropriate to their economic status.

Designed by London, Ontario architect George Durand, Victoria Hall’s asymmetrical massing, varied roofline and lively detailing illustrates the high Victorian taste for exuberant eclecticism. The building’s design also reflects the influence of American forms of the Queen Anne Revival style. While a 1989 fire gutted the interior and destroyed much of the original exterior wood trim and glazing, the original form and masonry detailing of the building survive. In 1992, the building was rehabilitated to accommodate a theatre for the performing arts.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1975.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements which relate to the heritage value of include:

- the influence of the American version of the Queen Anne Revival style, evident in the asymmetrical massing, the lightness and verticality of the building’s composition and the small scale of its elements;
- its massing and composition, consisting of a central two-storey hip-roofed rectangular block, a cross-gabled wing projecting from each of the four elevations, and a prominent, off-centre tower;
- its window and door openings, including a series of large round-arched window and door openings at ground level, upper floor windows with the tall narrow proportions typical of the Queen Anne Revival style, and lancet and Gothic-style tower windows with brick corbelling;
- surviving original materials, including its buff brick exterior.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1975/11/28

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1992/01/01 to 1992/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

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

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Defence
Armoury or Drill Hall
Government
Correctional Facility
Government
Town or City Hall
Leisure
Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub

Architect / Designer

George Durand

Builder

C.H. Hughson and Co.

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

488

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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