The Aeolian Hall
795, Dundas Street, London, Ontario, N5W, Canada
Links and documents
1883/01/01 to 1884/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Known today as the Aeolian Hall, the building at 795-797 Dundas Street was initially constructed in 1883-1884 as the Town Hall for East London. It combined an auditorium and council chamber on the second floor while its first floor served as a fire station. Today, designated by Municipal By-law # L.S.P. 3363-168 under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, the two and one-half storey bi-chromatic brick building remains an important landmark in East London.
The building’s construction, in 1883-84, marked an era when the growing community of East London wanted to emphasize its autonomy from the City of London by constructing its own Town Hall. However, financial difficulties led to the amalgamation of East London with London in 1885 and as such, the building was used for many purposes, continuing partly as a fire station until 1946, while the Dundas Street frontage provided a variety of administrative and commercial activities.
In 1968 London lawyer, music aficionado and philanthropist, Gordon Jeffrey purchased the Hall and renovated it for use as a concert hall. It was given the name Aeolian Hall and remains an important performance centre for the City. Since 1969, the building, noted for its acoustic excellence, has served as an important centre for musical performances; first under the administration of Gordon Jeffrey and the Jeffrey Trust, and, since 2004 under owner and internationally renowned concert pianist Clark Bryan.
Throughout its existence, the building has maintained a connection with the community’s political and social life, with many public meetings and variety shows being held in its auditorium. Today it continues to serve as a neighbourhood meeting place for local residents and community groups as well as maintaining its social value as an important centre for musical performances.
As the eastern-most anchor of the Old East Dundas Street commercial corridor, the building is a prominent landmark and serves as a symbol for the Old East community. The imposing two and one-half storey structure of high Victorian style with its central tower exudes a commanding position at one end of the block.
The architectural value of The Aeolian Hall is reflected in the 1880’s notion that architecture should and could be highly eclectic. Designed by George F. Durand, one of the most important Victorian architects in Southwestern Ontario, (who also designed the Perth County Court House in Stratford and the Petrolia Town Hall) Aeolian Hall is an excellent example of the High Victorian style, featuring both Italianate and Second Empire elements. Italianate influences are visible in the vertical emphasis of the design with the square-plan tower, large cast-iron and plate glass windows with segmental arches, while the Second Empire elements are emphasized by the symmetrically vertical massing, the mansard roof and the dormer windows. The bi-chromatic brickwork adds to the highly eclectic style.
Sources: Schedule "B" Corporation of City of London By-law # L.S.P. -3363: 168 Victorian Architecture in London and Southwestern Ontario: Symbols of Aspiration; Nancy Z.Tausky and Lynne DiStefano; University of Toronto Press; 1986: City of London Heritage Planner's Files
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage values above include:
- the central tower
- mansard roof
- dormers on either side of the tower
- alternating piers and Italianate windows on the facade
- bi-chromatic brickwork on exterior facades
- segmental arches over large cast-iron and plate glass windows on the ground floor
- round-arched windows on each level provide a unifying motif
- corbelled brackets
- ground floor piers
- original door and window openings
- original elements remaining in the west and east store fronts
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Learning and the Arts
- Governing Canada
- Politics and Political Processes
Function - Category and Type
- Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub
- Town or City Hall
Architect / Designer
George F. Durand
Location of Supporting Documentation
An information file related to 795-797 Dundas Street,The Aeolian Hall is located in the Heritage Planner’s Office, 6th Floor, City Hall, 300 Dufferin Avenue, London, ON N6A 4L9.
Cross-Reference to Collection
Architectural drawings from the Murphy-Moore Collection are located at the Archives and Research Collections Centre, D.B. Weldon Library, University of Western Ontario.