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G.M. Smith Building

1715-19 Barrington Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/04/11

Front elevation, G.M. Smith Building, Halifax, NS, 2007; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2007
Front elevation
Stonework details, G.M. Smith Building, Halifax, NS, 2007; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2007
Stonework details
Oriel window detail, G.M. Smith Building, Halifax, NS, 2007; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2007
Oriel window detail

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1893/01/01 to 1893/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/08/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

G.M. Smith Building is a four-storey stone commercial property located on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. With its elegant Art Nouveau influenced detailing and central location opposite the Grand Parade, the building is a prominent fixture in the Barrington Street streetscape. The heritage designation extends to the building and the land it occupies.

Heritage Value

The historical value of the G.M. Smith Building lies in its association with its original owner, George M. Smith, its architects James Charles Dumaresq and Harry H. Mott, and for its architectural features and contribution to the surrounding streetscape.

The original owner of the building was George M. Smith, a prominent dry goods merchant who marketed “super waterproofs,” parasols and ladies garments including wool, silk and cambric underwear. He operated his successful firm, G.M. Smith & Company Ltd. from the building for 35 years until 1928.

The last commercial property on Barrington Street to be built of stone before brick became the dominant construction material, the building was constructed in 1893 thanks to a unique collaboration between architects James Charles Dumaresq and Harry H. Mott. It is the only building the two prominent architects are known to have designed together. In his distinguished career, Dumaresq produced many venerable properties in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including a few other commercial buildings on Barrington Street. Celebrated in his native province of New Brunswick, Mott worked as Dumaresq’s associate for this project but his solo efforts elsewhere in Nova Scotia produced a wide range of stellar buildings, including the County Academy in Lunenburg and the Zion Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Yarmouth.

Architecturally, the G.M. Smith Building displays an eclectic mix of Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau styles. The diverse nature of the architecture is a character-defining feature of the Barrington Street streetscape, which boasts a wide assortment of architectural styles and influences. The building’s Gothic Revival influence is illustrated in the gabled parapet of the centre section, a feature typical of many Gothic buildings with three-bay façades. Another feature of this style is the square turret or finial-like projections mirrored on both sides of the roof. The Art Nouveau details of the building include stylized plant and floral designs on the window mouldings and on the pilasters separating the sections of the front façade.

- HRM Planning and Development Services, G.M. Smith Building.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of G.M. Smith Building include:

- three-bay symmetrical stone façade;
- mix of smooth and rough-textured dark stonework;
- faceted central bay window with oriel windows on top two levels;
- gabled parapet on top portion of centre section;
- round arch designs on centre parapet;
- segmentally arched windows on the second and fourth floors;
- side bay windows topped with square, turret or finial-like projections with cornice;
- pilasters with columns of fanciful Art Nouveau designs separating the three sections of the façade;
- elegant lintels with Art Nouveau floral designs on second and fourth storey windows;
- Art Nouveau patterns on window caps of third storey central bay window;
- dentils on cornice.



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

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

James Charles Dumaresq



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Inventory Site Form found at HRM Planning and Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1 Website: http://www.halifax.ca/planning/herimain.html

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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