Description of Historic Place
The Barrack Block, also known as Building H21, is an imposing 250-man, two-storey barrack block with a footprint in the shape of an E, a monumental portico, a flat roof and modern classical architecture detailing. The building’s imposing massing dominates the site and is supported by the presence of vast flat area and expanses of lawns. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Barrack Block is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Barrack Block speaks to the broad historical theme of the development of a full-time armed force in Canada in the 1950s. Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown is especially germane to this theme because it was founded and built in one sustained campaign between 1953 and 1958. The Barrack Block is a convenient example of the theme of the development of a permanent peace-time military establishment after World War II, when new facilities were being built to accommodate the upsurge in need for training and accommodations that came as a result of Canada’s commitment to NATO.
The Barrack Block is an imposing building with good visual qualities and is a good example of Modern Classical architecture. Modernist influences are most visible in the minimal applied ornament, the flat roof, the negative corners and the horizontality of the design. This is a standard design much repeated across the country; the 250-man barracks was the second largest of a suite of standard barracks built in the 1950s and is a known example of the work of the Design Division, Directorate of Works, of the Department of National Defence. The floor plan is typical of barracks buildings; it offers a very efficient and straightforward solution for the accommodation of 250 men. The efficiency of the original design is evidenced by the fact that the floor plans have remained essentially unchanged, and the building remains in use as barracks to this day. The building construction demonstrates a solid and competent use of the building technology of the period. The use of stucco on bricks was unusual for the time; however, the building has required very little maintenance over the years.
The Barrack Block’s large scale and its placement in relation to two other imposing buildings, another Barrack Block (Building H23) and the Junior Ranks Quarters, creates an effect of mutual reinforcement of the military character of the setting. The site consists of a vast expanse of flat grass bordered by the forest with widely spaced buildings set in a very formal layout. Both buildings and landscape convey a very controlled character, which speaks of military culture. Despite the changes to the site over the years, its character has been retained. The Barrack Block is well known in CFB Gagetown and in the larger area of Oromocto.
Sources: Rhona Goodspeed, Barrack Block, H 21 Dufferin Drive; Barrack Block H23 Dufferin Drive; Junior Ranks Quarters, D23 Cartier Crescent, CFB Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 01-062; Barrack Block, Building H21, Dufferin Drive (CFB Gagetown), Gagetown, New Brunswick, Heritage Character Statement 01-062.
The character-defining elements of the Barrack Block should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the historical theme of the development of a full-time armed force in Canada in the 1950s, as reflected in:
- the standard design and scale of the 250-man barracks, the second largest of the suite of standard barracks being built at that time.
Its good aesthetic design with modern classical influences, its good functional design, and its good quality craftsmanship and materials, as manifested in:
- the symmetry of the main façade accentuated by a central monumental portico with projected columns and a recessed entrance;
- the emphasis on horizontality expressed in the long flat-roofed wings on either side of the entrance portico, and the stringcourses and continuous window sills;
- the use of minimal applied ornament such as the pilasters located in the portico to add some monumentality and decorative detail to the design;
- the recessed corners which add a vertical frame to the building’s composition;
- the use of stucco to create a smooth, uniform exterior finish;
- the efficiency of its standard floor plan which has remained essentially unchanged;
- the use of simple, standard building details;
- the use of a distinctive material at the entry of the building, such as the quarry tiles.
The manner in which the building reinforces the military character of the setting, creates a strong cultural landscape and acts as a familiar neighbourhood landmark, as evidenced in:
- the building’s siting on a vast area of flat grass bordered by the forest with widely spaced buildings in a very formal arrangement;
- the building’s large scale and its placement in relation to two other imposing buildings, an other Barrack Block (Building H23) and the Junior Ranks Quarters;
- the continuous use of the Barrack Block by a large number of people and its familiarity to military personnel.