Description of Historic Place
The Armoury Hall building located at 23 High Street is situated at the northeast corner of High and Clyde Streets, abutting the Grand River, in the former Village of Elora, in the Township of Centre Wellington. The one-storey cut stone building was designed in a utilitarian style and was constructed in 1865.
The property was designated for its historic and architectural value by the Village of Elora, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, By-law 1882.
The Armoury Hall is associated with Canada's military past. The structure was originally built as an indoor drill shed and used to train local militia. At the time, drill sheds were erected in many areas of Canada due to the close proximity of the American border. This was in response to the American Civil War, and the threat of the Fenian Brotherhood. The Elora Armoury Hall was built with a significantly better design and quality of materials than many other sheds. It is believed that a low rate of volunteer military enrolment, in other locations, attributed to the poor appearance of their drill sheds.
After the threat of American attacks ceased, the building had a number of different uses. These included a community hall which hosted cultural events, local entertainment and political meetings, in particular, addresses made to the village by William Lyon Mackenzie King and Adam Beck, in 1911. The building now operates as an LCBO and is one of two surviving drill sheds in Ontario. It stands as a testament to Canada's military past and the evolving development of the Village of Elora.
The Armoury Hall is unusually well built and far superior in both its design and materials compared to most other drill sheds of the same period. Though most drill sheds were built as pole barns, the community made a collective decision to build a stone structure of classical proportions, to facilitate different uses in the future. The symmetry of the facade and original features, such as the Neo-classically inspired semi-circle fan light, over the door, and the oculus, in the gable, contribute to the Armoury Hall's architectural significance. The handsome stone structure is also representative of the earliest phase of drill hall construction in Canada.
Sources: Village of Elora, By-law 1882; Village of Elora Inscriptions Committee, Elora Drill Shed, October 1, 1992; The Wellington Advertiser, Plaque unveiled for 1865 drill shed, June 7, 2002; Wendy Seberras News Express, Recognized as historic site, June 2002, Marie Weber.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Armoury Hall include its:
- classical proportions
- symmetrically-designed facade
- use of quality materials such as cut stone
- Neo-classical details such as the semi-circular fan light over the door and the oculus in the gable
- multiple light shaped transom over the front door