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St. Lawrence Hall Block

87, Walton Street, Port Hope, Ontario, L1A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1976/07/20

View of main (north) façade showing proportions and massing – June 2005; OHT, 2005
View of main (north) façade – June 2005
Detailed view showing window heads and cornice – June 2005; OHT, 2005
Detailed view of windows – June 2005
Historic drawing of building showing context in Walton Street streetscape – c. 1871; Canadian Illustrated News, 1871
Historic drawing of building – c. 1871

Other Name(s)

St. Lawrence Hall Block
St. Lawrence Hotel
Lawrence Hall

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 87-97 Walton Street, commonly known as the St. Lawrence Hall Block, is situated on a large rectangular plot of land along Port Hope's main street. The four-storey red brick structure was constructed in 1853 to the designs of architect Merv Austin and is characterized by an Italianate design.

The exterior of the building is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property is also designated by the Municipality of Port Hope under Part IV (Bylaw 51-83) and Part V (Bylaw 44-97) of the Ontario Heritage Act.

Heritage Value

Nestled along the gentle slope of Walton Street, the St. Lawrence Hall Block is the defining feature of what is often referred to as Ontario's best-preserved main street. The heritage atmosphere of this streetscape provides a large tourist draw and complements Port Hope's identity as the Ontario municipality with the highest number of designated heritage buildings per capita.

Built during the decade when the Grand Trunk Railway and Midland Railway reached the town, the St. Lawrence Hall Block is a product of Port Hope's most significant period of economic growth. In addition to the schools, churches, and the town hall that were constructed at the time, the 1850s also saw the rise of an abundance of commercial blocks along the town's main street. Coordinated construction efforts by landowners resulted in a collection of remarkably cohesive building designs, however, the St. Lawrence Hall Block is considered to be the grandest and most handsome of these structures. The building is also of historical significance within the context of contemporary heritage conservation, as on July 20, 1976, it became the province's first property protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement agreement.

The St. Lawrence Hall Block is an excellent example of a commercial building constructed in the Italianate style. Designed by Rochester-based architect Merv Austin and built by Hiram Gillett, the structure's carefully planned appearance was intended to rival the finest buildings in Upper Canada and features a variety of classical details. The building's most significant and innovative architectural characteristic is the dual use of cast iron as a structural component in the ground floor piers and as a decorative feature in the upper floor windows. The main facade also contains a highly decorative cornice supported by four large brackets. At four storeys in height and over 100 feet in length, this generous façade is comprised of 17 bays on the upper floors and five storefront bays on the ground floor.

Source: Conservation Easement Files, Ontario Heritage Trust

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the St. Lawrence Hall Block include the:
- location on the sloped portion of Walton Street, Port Hope's main commercial street
- prominent massing and design details amongst the other commercial buildings of Walton Street
- Italianate design with foundations of limestone, cladding in red brick, a structural system of cast iron, and low-sloped shed roofs
- building's L-shaped footprint consisting of a main four-storey complex and a two-storey rear annex
- fenestrated storefronts characterized by tall proportions, cast iron piers, a cornice and sign-band, and large expanses of glass that increase in height from west to east
- balanced fenestration of the north and south elevations with the windows on the north being of a long and narrow, arched, four-over-four sash design, and the windows on the south being of a long and narrow, flat, four-over-four sash design
- windows of the main (north) façade with decorative cast iron hoods that differ in design from floor to floor
- elaborate cornice of the main (north) facade with dentils and four large brackets




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1983/01/01 to 1983/01/01
1976/01/01 to 1976/01/01
1980/01/01 to 1980/01/01
1998/01/01 to 1998/01/01
1965/01/01 to 1965/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Multiple Dwelling


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn

Architect / Designer

Merv Austin


Hiram Gillett

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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