Description of Historic Place
Located at the corner of Gore and Basin Streets, the McMillan Building makes a dramatic statement on the streetscape with its solid massing, arched windows, two-storey pilasters, monumental pale yellow pediments and balustrade on the parapet. The angled entrance faces the corner, offering an open welcome, so appropriate to this three-storey Beaux Arts structure which began as the Perth Carnegie Library in 1907.
The McMillan Building is recognized by the Town of Perth for its heritage value in By-law 2381.
The McMillan Building has a position of predominance on one of Perth's main intersections and its relationship to neighbouring buildings, adds to the grandeur of the streetscape of Gore Street.
Erected in 1907, it was designed by Toronto architect Frank Darling and modelled on the Bank of Montreal's head office in Toronto (now the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame). Darling designed several other buildings across Canada, including the Bank of Commerce building in Winnipeg, the Sun Life building in Montreal, the Bank of Commerce building in Ottawa and the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Darling frequently designed commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style. The McMillan Building is one of a few remaining libraries built with a Carnegie grant. Through the efforts of the Perth Scientific and Literary Society, a grant of $10,000 was received from the Carnegie Foundation. Originally, the basement of the building contained children's books and quarters for a caretaker, while the second floor held all other books and a reading room.
The McMillan Building is a good example of the Beaux Arts style. Popular at the turn of the 20th century, it was used predominantly for public buildings and the McMillan Building contains the typical features of temple facades, pediments, columns, decorative brackets, wide stairs, flat roof and a balustrade on the parapet.
Sources: Town of Perth By-law 2381; Heritage Perth; Katherine Ashenburg, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario. (Toronto, Macfarlane Walter and Ross, 1996).
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the McMillan House include the:
- design elements incorporated by Frank Darling, one of Canada's foremost architects
- red and yellow brick facade with rough cut stone on the base for rustication
- corner door flanked by two pediments on either side
- temple fronts on the Gore and Basin Streets facades, with pediments that feature one circular window, overhanging eaves, decorative brackets and an architrave beneath which spans all three sides of the building
- flat roof line with yellow brick trim, including a continuation of pilasters from the first floor and topped by a high closed balustrade
- five yellow brick pilasters, with cut-stone capitals and shafts on both the Gore and Basin Streets facades
- four groups of square headed windows on the lower floor with a continuous cut-stone surround-head, projecting sill, and two sashes located between brick pilasters on the first floor on both sides of the building
- four round-headed windows, on both sides of the building on the second floor, each with decorative red brick surround, a triple cut-stone keystone, a cut-stone sill and two sashes
- square headed, double-hung sash windows with a gable top and continuous wood trim on the third floor, located above the corner door, on the far left side of the Gore Street facade, and on the far right side of the Basin Street facade
- two square-headed doors at the entrance, each with a panel of glass
- half-circle window on the second floor, above the entranceway, with red brick detailing, a triple cut-stone keystone and a cut-stone sill
- cream-coloured frieze between the first and second floor
- central location on Perth's main commercial street, at Gore Street and Basin Street
- relationship to neighbouring buildings on Gore Street, via the similarity in height, massing and building material, creating a unique and cohesive streetscape