Description of Historic Place
Constructed in 1846, the Brooke-Matthews Building is a two-and-a-half-storey commercial building located at 51-55 Gore Street East beside the Little Tay River, in the heart of downtown Perth.
The Brooke-Matthews Building has been recognized for its heritage value by the Town of Perth, By-law number 2294.
Alongside of the Tay River and fronting on the main street this structure has maintained an important symbolic place in the community, as its balconies above the Little Tay River, combined with the double arched stone bridge along Gore Street, make it one of Perth's most photographed settings.
The Brooke-Matthews Building is associated with the early Scottish settlement in Perth. The building was constructed by Thomas Brooke, a wealthy merchant who moved to Perth from Halifax in 1818. Brooke also built 45-49 Gore Street East, another prominent building in Perth's commercial district. After the Town of Perth was incorporated in 1853, Brooke served as the county, town and township clerk from 1859 to 1880.
From 1846 to 1889, the building was occupied by William O'Brien, a manufacturer and leather dealer, George and John Butler, tinsmiths, E.G. Malloch, barrister and the Dominion Telegraph Company. In 1889, a fire destroyed parts of the building, and in 1979 the interior of the building was completely destroyed by fire. The building was restored with assistance from the Ontario Heritage Foundation, and remains an excellent example of early commercial architecture in Eastern Ontario.
Sources: Town of Perth By-law 2294; Heritage Perth; Katherine Ashenburg, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario. (Toronto, Macfarlane Walter and Ross, 1996).
Character defining elements that define the Brooke-Matthews Building's heritage value include the:
- unique orientation on Gore street beside the Little Tay River in the centre of Perth's commercial district.
- locally quarried rough-cut stone
- gabled roof, with gable side facing away from street
- variety of window shapes, including four 12 square headed windows with two sashes each on the second floor, and the three dormer windows each with two sashes and two panes of glass
- parapet wall with quadrant windows, cut-stone quoins, and balconies
- bracketed overhanging eaves and frieze