Description of Historic Place
The Commercial Building is located in a block that faces Sussex Drive and forms an attractive courtyard at its centre. The three-storey, red brick building is defined by a Second Empire design vocabulary. Regularly placed doors and windows are set under a mansard roof with three regularly placed dormers. Modest decorative elements include a small wooden balcony and carved wood on the dormer gables, window arches and heavy eave brackets. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Commercial Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Commercial Building is a very good example of a building associated with the commercial development of Ottawa in the late 19th century. Situated in Lower Town, previously known as Bytown, Cyras Ouellet built the property, for Beloni Thibert, a carriage maker. The property remained in the hands of Thibert’s descendants until 1965, when its present owner, the National Capital Commission, acquired it.
The Commercial Building is valued for the very good aesthetics of its Second Empire design vocabulary. The building exhibits very good functional design and maintains its traditional duality of function with an undivided ground floor that accommodates commercial activity, and the second and third floors reserved for residential. The frontality of the design, the symmetrical disposition of the openings, the corbelled end walls, and the mansard silhouette with dormer windows indicate a building designed for integration into an urban commercial streetscape. Very good craftsmanship is evidenced in the brickwork and decorative carved wood.
The Commercial Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site reinforces the historic/commercial character of Clarence Street in Ottawa and is a familiar city landmark to local residents, people working in the vicinity and pedestrians.
Kate MacFarlane, The Commercial Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Report 88-037; The Commercial Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 88-037.
The character-defining elements of the Commercial Building should be respected.
Its very good Second Empire derived design elements, its very good functional design and very good quality craftsmanship, for example:
-the three-storey massing and the symmetrical façade;
-the mansard roof with three regularly placed dormers set over regularly placed doors and windows, in turn set under segmental arches of radiating brick;
-the exterior walls of red brick;
-the ground floor entrance to the residential second and third floors set under a second floor balcony and the centrally placed entrance to the commercial premises;
-the modest decorative elements that include the carved wooden balcony, carved wood on the dormer gables, window arches, and also the heavy eave brackets;
-the interior spatial arrangement of the principal rooms.
The manner in which the Commercial Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the historic/commercial character of Clarence Street in Ottawa and is a familiar city landmark as evidenced by:
-its roofline and proportions that relate it successfully to the neighbouring 461-465 Sussex Drive;
-its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship with the surrounding block of buildings and complements the streetscape;
-its familiarity to visitors, passing pedestrians, and local residents.