Description of Historic Place
Built in 1914, the Horticulture Building is one of eight permanent exhibition halls located at the Central Canada Exhibition at Lansdowne Park, in the City of Ottawa. The Horticulture Building is easily identified by its Prairie Style and includes a stepped base, strong vertical corner piers and flat projecting roof planes.
The Horticultural Building is recognized by the City of Ottawa for its architectural and historical value in By-law 208-89.
The Horticultural Building has a long-standing tie with the Central Canada Exhibition, which was founded in 1888 and is the oldest continuously operating agricultural fair in Canada. The Horticulture Building was completed in 1914 just in time for that year's opening of the exhibition. As one of eight exhibition buildings on the grounds of Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, the Horticultural Building occupies a key portion of the exhibition grounds adjacent to the steel clad Aberdeen Pavilion. In addition to serving the annual Exhibition, this building also served a second function as a public curling rink during the winter season.
Designed by Francis C. Sullivan, an Ottawa architect associated with Franklin Lloyd Wright's design philosophy of 'organic architecture', the Horticulture Building is an excellent Canadian interpretation of the Prairie Style. The dominant rectilinear massing, strong corner piers, broad horizontal roof, and sparse stylized brick and stucco ornament is illustrated here in one of Canada's earliest expressions of modernism. In addition the stepped base, strong vertical corner piers, flat projecting roof planes, rectangular stucco panels, grouped casement windows with geometric glazing patterns and minimal but highly stylized ornament further enhance the Horticulture Building. The Prairie Style is rare in Canada but the Ottawa area has several examples due to the efforts of Francis C. Sullivan.
The design and location of this building, forms a unique element within the Lansdowne Park exhibition grounds and in its close physical proximity to the Aberdeen Pavilion (or Cattle Castle).
The Lansdowne Park Development Strategy approved by City Council on November 7, 1984, called for the retention of only the Aberdeen Pavilion, the McElroy Building, and the Civic Centre and Frank Clare Stadium. It called for the phased removal of all others which had outlived their usefulness. However, in 1989, the Community Services and Operations Committee of the City of Ottawa recommended that at least the front section of the Horticulture Building be retained in any redevelopment of Lansdowne Park. In 1991, Ottawa City Council voted to remove the heritage designation to accommodate a convention centre proposal, but the building was re-designated a heritage structure in 1994. The designation does not include the one-storey additions on the east side of the exhibition hall portion of the building. Currently in a less than favourable state, this structure is now primarily used as a storage facility.
Sources: City of Ottawa By-law 208-89; Department of Planning and Development (Oct. 21, 1988), City of Ottawa Heritage Survey and Evaluation Form (July 1993); “Horticultural Building Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, Ontario: A Review of Planning Considerations for the Building's Disposition” (Commonwealth Historic Resource Management Limited); “The Horticulture Building – a Rehabilitation Study” (Pierre Elliott, 1986), “Ottawa: A Guide to Heritage Structures” (City of Ottawa, 2000).
Character defining elements that define the Horticulture Building's heritage value include its:
- brick construction
- flat-roofed pavilion that forms the front facade
- overhanging roof eaves
- corner piers
- grouping of upper floor vertical casement windows with geometric glazing patterns
- stepped foundation
- brick walls accentuated with select stone trimming, stucco panels and wood banding along the roof
- inclusion as part of the complex of exhibition buildings located in Lansdowne Park (beside the Rideau Canal) and adjacent to the Aberdeen Pavilion (Cattle Castle)