Description of Historic Place
The Former Warden’s Residence, also known as Building A1, overlooks Kingston Penitentiary from its location outside of the precinct’s walls. Designed in the Italianate style, the residence has a square plan and features a projecting bay, a classically detailed stone porch and a hipped roof with an array of ironwork and decorative detailing. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Former Warden’s Residence is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Former Warden’s Residence is associated with the development of the Canadian Penal System and also illustrates a phase when non-guard staff were hired to administer the institution. The heads and deputy heads of the institution were senior members of Kingston’s society. The construction of the Former Warden’s Residence outside of the enclosure of the penitentiary complex reflected the intended expansion of the prison, and represents a significant phase in the development of the community of Portsmouth.
The Former Warden’s Residence is a very good example of a formal but individualized treatment of the Italianate villa style, which flourished in Upper and Lower Canada between 1850 and 1870. The building also demonstrates strong functional qualities since it has been easily adapted for various uses over the years. The craftsmanship and choice of materials exhibit a high degree of skill. The Former Warden’s Residence is the work of architect Edward Horsey (1809-1869).
The Former Warden’s Residence is compatible with the present character of its residential neighbourhood setting outside the walls of Kingston Penitentiary. The building is a well-known landmark in the area.
Sources: Dana Johnson, Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 89-032; Former Warden’s Residence, Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 89-032.
The following character-defining elements of the Former Warden’s Residence should be respected.
Its Italianate architecture, functional design and very good craftsmanship, for example:
- its square plan with an asymmetrically located projecting bay and rear service wing;
- its heavily bracketed, gently pitched hipped roof truncated to form a roof walk with protective ornamental iron railing;
- its combination of segmental and round headed windows with distinctive surround treatment;
- its flat roofed porch with round-headed arches supported by piers faced with pilasters and stepped capitals;
- its squared, uncoursed limestone rubble walling and detailing, inclusive of squared rubble quoins and external dressings of cut Ohio sandstone;
- its traditional centre hall plan accommodating a service wing, porch and verandah;
- its finely detailed, open, dog-leg stair, and the concentration of distinguished interior joinery in the centre hall.
The manner in which the Former Warden’s Residence is compatible with the present character of its residential neighbourhood setting outside the walls of Kingston Penitentiary and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- its generous scale and stone construction, consistent with many of the residential structures in the neighbourhood;
- its high visibility and familiarity given its location on high ground outside the walls overlooking the institution and its use as a museum about Canada’s correctional history;
- its axial alignment with the north gate and monumental stairs which identifies the residence with the penitentiary.