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McMartin House

125, Gore Street, Perth, Ontario, K7H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1972/04/12

View of the front of the house including original fence and garden; Archives of Ontario
Daguerreotype 1850 or pre 1850
View of the main floor hallway and stairs; OHT
Interior View of McMartin House
View of the front of McMartin House including fence; OHT
Exterior View of McMartin House

Other Name(s)

McMartin House
St. John's Hall
Haughty Mac's

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 125 Gore Street East, known as McMartin House is situated at the corner of Gore and Harvey Streets in downtown Perth. The two storey building was designed in the American Federal Style and constructed in 1830. The McMartin House was designated a National Historic Site in 1962 by the Government of Canada.

The site was purchased by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, now the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT), on April 12th, 1972 and has since undergone extensive preservation and restoration work. On June 30th, 1979 the OHF unveiled a provincial plaque commemorating the McMartin House.

Heritage Value

McMartin House is located at 125 Gore Street East, in downtown Perth near other historic buildings including Inge-Va, also owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust. The property's original white picket fence with finial capped posts was removed in 1884 and subsequently reconstructed in 1976.

McMartin House is significant for its association with Daniel McMartin, a historic figure in Perth, who moved there in 1823 to become the town's first lawyer. Born to Loyalist parents in 1798 and raised in nearby Martintown, he was educated at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. Daniel built McMartin House in 1830 with money he inherited from his father and married Charlotte Mathilda Morgan in 1836, the daughter of a wealthy American family. The couple and their four children lived in McMartin house until it was seized by the sheriff in 1868 for non-payment of debts. Daniel McMartin died a year later after a brief illness.

McMartin House is also associated with William O'Brien, a wealthy boot and shoe manufacturer with three children, who was elected to town council in 1896 and lived at the house from 1871-1883. Subsequently, another prominent figure in Perth, Dr. William Grant and his family, lived in the house from 1883 to 1919. The house is associated as well with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kingston, during the period 1919-1972 who made the most drastic changes to the property, converting it to a parish hall and renaming the building St. John's Memorial Hall. Since 1974 the property has been leased to the Perth and County Senior Craft Fellowship.

McMartin house is an excellent example of the American Federal style in Canada. This style was popular in the United States between 1780 and 1820 but was very rarely seen in Canada. The house is built of red brick in Flemish bond, with marble trim and quoins. Round and semi-elliptical arches form a layer across the symmetrical facade and the house has a standing seam tin roof (replicating original fer blanc or sheet iron coated with tin roofing) ornamented with two lanterns and a large central cupola (replicas based on originals). Interior details such as window trim and mouldings were inspired by the published architectural renderings of Asher Benjamin, an influential designer in the Greek Revival style. In 1883, mahogany trim was added to the east room on the first floor and in the northeast room on the second floor, as was a coal burning furnace. It was also at this time that the original roof-top lanterns were removed and replaced with boxed skylights and the cupola was shortened in height. In 1890, Dr. Grant built a two storey kitchen wing in the rear of the residence replacing the original basement kitchen. In December 1906 a furnace fire spread through the air vents and damaged the west side of the house. Joists on the ground floor were replaced as was sub-flooring and flooring. The exterior brick was replaced to halfway up on the second storey rear elevation. In 1907 a new furnace with hot water radiators was installed and the west side damaged by the fire was repaired. In 1925 the stairs to the third floor were removed and the second floor walls were removed to convert the building to a parish hall. In 1931 the exterior marble steps were removed and installed at Inge-Va, a few blocks away.

After the acquisition of the house by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1972, the basement was excavated by archaeologists. During this excavation a dressed stone floor below the wood flooring and a fifteen inch oval brick drain trench running away from the east side of the house were discovered. Under an 1890 rear porch addition, dressed stones were identified as being coping stones from a brick garden wall that once ran along the east side of the building. Further archaeological excavations were carried out in 1987 and uncovered 1,653 artifacts.

Source: OHT Easement Files

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the McMartin House include its:
- brick construction in the American Federal Style, rare in Canada
- symmetry of the facade and fenestration
- marble banding
- marble quoins
- marble window lintels and keystones
- round and semi-elliptical arches that form a raised layer across the symmetrical facade
- roof ornamented with two lanterns and a large central cupola
- concealed eavestroughs
- lead-coated copper shingles replicating original fer blanc (thin sheet iron coated with tin) roofing
- double chimney with a small oval openings trimmed with marble
- Flemish bond brick walls
- semicircular fanlight over entrance
- sidelights on either side of the entrance doorway
- center-hall style floor plan with two principle rooms flanking each side of a hall
- mahogany trim in east room main floor and north east room second floor
- dressed stone flooring in west room in basement
- original mantles with fret detailing
- original interior window surrounds
- stair railings
- marble fireplace surround
- cast-iron lacework of the fireplace screen
- mouldings in principle rooms including egg and dart and dentil details
- dressed stone floor in the basement.
- 38cm oval brick drain pipe discovered in the basement
- extensive faunal specimens
- proximity to other historic buildings in the centre of Perth
- location in the city centre near the Tay River
- proximity to the Tay River Trail
- replicated white picket fence with posts and fret detailing




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1871/01/01 to 1883/01/01
1883/01/01 to 1883/01/01
1890/01/01 to 1890/01/01
1906/01/01 to 1907/01/01
1919/01/01 to 1919/01/01
1827/01/01 to 1827/01/01
1931/01/01 to 1931/01/01
1925/01/01 to 1925/01/01
1962/01/01 to 1962/01/01
1972/01/01 to 1972/01/01
1974/01/01 to 1974/01/01
1976/01/01 to 1976/01/01
1987/01/01 to 1987/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Ontario Heritage Trust Property Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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