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Dover Building

185-187 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/07/25

Exterior photo; (CIHB/IBHC, Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1985.)
Exterior photo
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/04/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located in the core of Ottawa’s central business district, the Dover Building is a handsome, three-storey commercial building with a distinctive Romanesque Revival façade. Constructed in sandstone it is three bays wide and features large round-headed windows, a strong cornice and, and a decorative pediment. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Dover Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The Dover Building is a very good example of a building associated with the commercial development of Ottawa in the late 19th century. The structure also reflects the commercial development of Sparks Street and the longevity of the three-storey commercial block design. A.J. Stephens, an Ottawa shoe and boot merchant, rented the upper storeys of the building to professionals and opened his own shop, specializing in both European and American products, on the ground floor. To the rear of his store, he also operated a shoe manufactory. Stephens ended his operations in the 1920s and rented the ground floor to Plaunt Hardware. In 1944, the building was purchased by an Ottawa sporting good merchant, Joseph Dover, who operated a retail hardware and sporting goods business until 1981.

Architectural Value:
The Dover Building is valued for its very good aesthetics. It is a late Victorian commercial building with a distinctive façade that features both Romanesque and classically inspired elements. Buildings of this period tended to have larger expanses of glass, more mechanically produced elements and a greater variety in facade detailing. In these regards, the Dover Building is a typical example of commercial building of its period. Very good craftsmanship is seen in the brickwork and carved sandstone panels. The quality of the design and of the rehabilitation work completed in 1982 was recognized by the City of Ottawa, which awarded the building a certificate of merit in 1983.

Environmental Value:
The Dover Building reinforces the historic/commercial character of its streetscape setting in Ottawa’s central business district setting and is a familiar landmark to local residents, people working in the vicinity and pedestrians.

Dana Johnson, Nineteen Federally Owned Properties, Sparks Street, Ottawa Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Reports 85-008 and 85-014 to 85-031; The Dover Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 85-029.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of The Dover Building should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic design, its good functional design and very good quality craftsmanship, for example:
-the three-storey massing of the symmetrical façade;
-the distinctive division of the facade into horizontal and vertical elements, and three distinct bays divided by brick pilasters;
-the exterior materials composed of brick, sandstone and pressed tin elements;
-the large round headed windows;
-the sandstone keys, carved sandstone panels and a sandstone belt course above the upper window;
-the pressed metal oriel with classically inspired decoration and projecting cornice of pressed metal;
-the interior spatial arrangement of the principal interior spaces.

The manner in which the Dover Building reinforces the historic/commercial character of its streetscape setting in Ottawa and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
-its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship with the adjacent buildings and complements the streetscape;
-its familiarity to visitors, passing pedestrians, and local residents.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1982/01/01 to 1982/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

King Arnoldi



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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