Hope Building

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Ottawa, Ontario
Front view of the Hope Building, 1985. (© Public Works and Government Services Canada / Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada, 1985.)
Front elevation
(© Public Works and Government Services Canada / Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada, 1985.)
Address : 61-63 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1986-06-06
Dates:
  • 1910 to 1910 (Construction)
  • 1984 to 1984 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • James Hope  (Person)
  • W.E. Nofke  (Architect)
Custodian: Public Works and Government Services Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 85-15
DFRP Number: 08833 00

Description of Historic Place

The Hope Building stands on a narrow site on the north side of Sparks Street in the core of the Ottawa business district. The tall, nine-storey structure is of steel-frame and concrete slab construction. It is distinguished by its extensive glazing. The principal façade is clad in granite and has a strong vertical emphasis. The top storey has an elaborate cap of glazed terra cotta panels. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

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

Historical Value:
The Hope Building is associated with the commercial development of Sparks Street westward towards Bank Street in the early 20th century, and is the first of the privately owned high-rise buildings along the north side of the street. Bookseller and stationer, James Hope erected the structure primarily as rental accommodation for lawyers, real estate agents and other professionals. The structure was a combined bookstore and office building primarily dedicated to religious publishing, as its name the “Bible House” suggests.

Architectural Value:
Valued for its very good aesthetics the Hope Building is a nine-storey steel-frame and concrete slab building. The narrowness of the lot, coupled with the building’s steel-frame construction, encouraged very good functional design and a simple treatment of the facade above the ground floor. This functional structure exhibits very good craftsmanship and materials in the entrance of mahogany with bronze fittings, the glazed terra cotta panels on the terminating storey, and in the bronze cornice topped by a terra cotta statue representing “Hope”, a Grecian allegorical female figure. It received an award of excellence for Public Works Commission’s efforts at rehabilitation in 1984.

Environmental Value:
The Hope Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site in the historic commercial core and is compatible with its central business district setting and is familiar to residents, to people working in the vicinity and pedestrians.

Sources:
Dana Johnson, Nineteen Federally owned Properties - Sparks Street, Hope Building, 61-63 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 85-015; Hope Building, 61-63 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 85-015.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Hope Building should be respected.

Its very good aesthetics, functional design, and craftsmanship and materials, for example: the tall, narrow massing of the nine-storey symmetrical façade; the steel-frame and concrete slab construction, with all other walls of brick; the extensive glazing and bronze spandrels of the principal façade; the Sparks Street elevation with mahogany and bronze entryway and ground floor storefront in bronze, plate glass and granite; the terminating storey with elaborate cap of English glazed terra cotta panels produced by the Doulton potteries of Leeds, England; the bronze cornice topped by a terra cotta statue representing “Hope”.

The manner in which the Hope Building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the character of the commercial centre of its setting in downtown Ottawa and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by: the building’s ongoing relationship to its streetscape and surrounding buildings; its design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship to adjacent structures in the commercial core of downtown Ottawa; its mid-block location next to the postal substation, and its height that make it a well known Sparks Street building.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.

The Hope Building was built in 1910 by Holbrooke and Sutherland, contractors, and by the dominion Bridge Co. for the steelwork, to the designs of W.E. Noffke, an Ottawa architect. It was Recognized because it is a very good example of the development of the community and for its very good architectural design.

HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS
This building is one of 19 buildings located on the north side of Sparks Street between Elgin and Bank Streets, an area which has been, since the 1880s at least, the core of Ottawa's central business district. It was erected by the Ottawa bookseller and stationer James Hope primarily as rental accommodation for lawyers, real estate agents and other professionals. Hope was a longtime sparks Street landowner: having disposed of two earlier buildings, he purchased a narrow part lot further west along sparks Street and commissioned the Ottawa architect W.E. Noffke to design a combined bookstore for his own use, and an office building primarily dedicated to Hope's great love, religious publishing. Naming the structure "Bible House", he ordered the addition of a statue of Hope, a Grecian allegorical female figure which, play on his name notwithstanding, represented the owner's expectation that his enterprise would contribute to a better world.

ARCHITECTURE
This is a nine-storey steel-frame and concrete slab building only 33 feet wide by 99 feet deep. The extreme narrowness of the lot coupled with the building's steel-frame construction encouraged a simple treatment of the facade above the ground floor. The Sparks Street elevation consists of an entryway of mahogany with bronze fittings serving the floors above and a storefront in bronze, plate glass and granite with a bronze granite with bronze spandrels. The terminating storey consists of an elaborate cap of English glazed terra cotta panels produced by the Doulton potteries of Leeds, England with a bronze cornice topped by a terra cotta statue representing "Hope". All other walls were of brick.

ENVIRONMENT
Prominently located next to the postal substation, the Hope Building is the first of the privately owned highrise buildings along the north side of Sparks Street. Its great height compared with its width, its midblock location and the narrowness of Sparks Street make it a difficult building to see in perspective, but its continuing use as a major bookstore contributes to its familiarity locally. For the city, it is a building of heritage interest, and was given an award of excellence for PWC's efforts at rehabilitation in 1984.