Description of Historic Place
The building at 5 Blackburn Avenue is a 2 1/2 storey, red brick structure located within Sandy Hill, a primarily residential district to the east of central Ottawa. Built in 1905, 5 Blackburn is an excellent example of the late Queen Anne Revival style and is representative of the development of Sandy Hill into a desirable residential district. The designation includes the exterior of the building as well as some significant interior elements. 5 Blackburn was formally designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act by the City of Ottawa in 2005 (bylaw # 2005-14).
The heritage value of the structure at 5 Blackburn lies firstly in its historical and contextual associations with significant figures and organizations in the history of Ottawa and Canada and also the development of Sandy Hill. Secondly, its heritage value is found in its architectural features, representative of the late Queen Anne Revival.
Built in 1905 for Robert Blackburn, the structure at 5 Blackburn is an example of the type of houses built in Sandy Hill in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the district developed into an upper-class residential area. Located at the corner of Laurier of Blackburn Avenue, this building is part of a group of historically and architecturally significant buildings along Laurier Avenue East built by prominent citizens, including John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfred Laurier, and William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Over the years, this building has been associated with various historically significant figures. It was built by industrialist and former Member of Parliament Robert Blackburn of the Freehold Association of Ottawa, early developers of Sandy Hill. The building was once the home of First World War aviator Billy Bishop, whom in 1941 received Sir Winston Churchill at this house. It was also home to the national headquarters of the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). Established in 1897 by Lady Aberdeen, the VON provided much-needed nursing care to frontier communities across Canada. The Victoria Order of Nurses had their national headquarters in this building from 1956 until 2001. The Heritage Canada Foundation has occupied the house since.
Architecturally, 5 Blackburn is an example of the Queen Anne Revival style. Attributes common to the architectural style, which are found on 5 Blackburn, include the steep, cross-gambrel roof, decorative brickwork, classically inspired porches, and corbelled chimneys. The restraint shown in exterior decorative elements, massing and masonry decoration is associated with the late Queen Anne Revival style. There is also a Queen Anne Revival inspired carriage house to the rear of the building, which shares many elements with the main building, including decorative brickwork, masonry decorative, corner towers and panelled wood doors.
Interiors with rich finishing and decorative details are also typical of the Queen Anne Revival style. Interior elements included in the designation are the plaster decoration in the main floor living room, the eight fireplaces with mantles, the panelling on the walls and ceiling throughout the main floor and the panelling, balustrade and newel posts of the main staircase.
Sources: Statement of reason for designation, 2005 (city of Ottawa); bylaw #2005-14 files (city of Ottawa); “Ottawa, a Guide to Heritage Structures”, (2000, city of Ottawa).
Key exterior elements that contribute to the heritage value of 5 Blackburn, a structural expression of the late Queen Anne Revival style, include:
-steep, cross gambrel roof
-decorative exterior brickwork
-classically inspired porches
-use of a variety of materials, including brick, stone and slate
-leaded glass double door
-rich variety of windows arranged singly, in pairs and in threes, some of which feature multiple panes and leaded glass, and two bullseye windows
-Queen Anne Revival carriage house featuring decorative brickwork, masonry decoration, corner towers with hipped roofs, coupled windows and panelled wood doors
Key interior elements that contribute to the heritage value of 5 Blackburn include:
-plaster decoration in main floor living room
-eight fireplaces and mantels
-panelling on walls and ceiling throughout the main floor
-balustrade and newel posts of the main staircase