West Workshop

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Kingston, Ontario
View of the West Workshop, showing the many arched windows along its exterior walls, 1988. © Travaux publics Canada / Public Works Canada, 1988.
Rear elevation
© Travaux publics Canada / Public Works Canada, 1988.
View of the West Workshop, showing the many arched windows along its exterior walls, 1988. © Travaux publics Canada / Public Works Canada, 1988.View of the West Workshop, showing the high quality masonry work including the division of the principal elevation into tiers, 1989. © Travaux publics Canada / Public Works Canada, 1989.
Address : 555 King Street West, Kingston Penitentiary National Historic Site of Canada, Kingston, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1990-05-18
Dates:
  • 1858 to 1859 (Construction)
  • 1874 to 1874 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Edward Horsey  (Architect)
  • James Adams  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Building C7  (Other Name)
Custodian: Correctional Service of Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 89-032
DFRP Number: 09477 00

Description of Historic Place

The West Workshop, also known as Building C7, is located in the south yard of Kingston Penitentiary. It is a large, rectangular, gable-roof structure distinguished by its crowning cornice, pedimented centre, end pavilions and the many arched windows along its exterior walls. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The West Workshop is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The West Workshop is associated with the evolution of thought in Canadian penology. Its period as a workshop, between 1859 and 1887, illustrates the theme of the reform through labour as part of the rehabilitation process at Kingston Penitentiary.

Architectural Value
The West Workshop is a very good example of a mid-19th century, Neoclassical style, industrial workshop. The building also exhibits high quality stone masonry work. The variety of walling and the variety of arch treatment demonstrate the skill of the masons in executing all classes of work. The West Workshop stands as one of Edward Horsey’s largest commissions while architect of the Penitentiary (1846-1869).

Environmental Value
The West Workshop reinforces the character of its industrial precinct setting at the south yard of the penitentiary.

Sources: Dana Johnson, Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 89-032; West Workshop (C-7), Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 89-032.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the West Workshop should be respected.

Its Neoclassical style industrial architecture and high quality craftsmanship, for example: the symmetrical, rectilinear plan with 15 bay, three storey massing, with pedimented central bay and end pavilions, and medium-pitched gable roof; the high quality masonry work including the division of the principal elevation into tiers masked by base and belt courses and a crowning cornice; the varied architectural treatment of the windows on each storey.

The manner in which the West Workshop reinforces the character of its industrial precinct setting at the south yard of the penitentiary, as evidenced by: its key role in physically defining the industrial precinct in the south yard; its consistency of scale, materials, architectural detail and decorative program with other buildings in the precinct.

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 West Workshop was erected between 1858 and 1859 to a design prepared by Edward Horsey. Following a fire in 1874, which gutted the interior and burned off the roof, the building was reconstructed to drawings prepared by the architect, James Adams. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it is assumed that the Adam's building (1876-1882) which incorporated the standing remains of the original, faithfully reproduced the Horsey design. External modifications to the 1882 building include modification of the windows in the upper two storeys of the central projecting bay from a triplet to a pair grouping (1895-1919), replacement of the arch feature which capped the central projecting bay by a triangular pediment, demolition of the stone chimney stack centred on the roof ridge, breaking down of various smaller stone chimney stacks, addition of three wood roof ventilators (1934-1935), demolition of the latrine annex at the west elevation and the reworking of the wall behind to form two bays of windows (1936?), addition of two fire escapes and the cutting down of four windows to form exit doors at the west elevation (c.1960). Internal modifications include demolition of the asylum cells in the north-half (1926) major reconstruction of the interior, i.e. reinforcing the floor, installing new partitioning and services to serve as a shop (1926-1938). A portion of the former workshop is currently operated by Correctional Services Canada as a teaching facility.

See FHBRO Building Report 89-32.

Reason for Designation

The West Workshop was designated Recognized because of its historical associations, architectural significance, the quality of its construction, the integrity of its environment, and as an example of the work of an important designer.

The building is associated with the evolution of thought in Canadian penology.

Architecturally the building is a noteworthy example of a mid-19th century, Neoclassical style, stone workshop.

The West Workshop exhibits consistently high quality stone masonry work. The variety of walling, which ranges from the elaborate pitch-faced and marginal tooled coursed ashlar, to the easier-to-execute regular coursed rubble, and the variety of arch treatment, which ranges from the sophisticated cut-stone jack-arch lintel to a simple segmental arch with voussoirs of equal height, demonstrate the skill of the masons in executing all classes of work.


Of the various projects designed by Edward Horsey, the West Workshop is one of his largest and least altered commissions.

The demolition of the West lodge and the watchtower which adjoined it (1925) has altered the relationship between the West Workshop and its associated landscape but left the character of the site intact. The Workshop, which forms the western boundary of the industrial precinct within the south yard, is essential to its continued preservation.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of the West Workshop resides in its status as a very good example of Neoclassical industrial architecture. At the exterior, the characteristic features of this style are: the symmetrical, rectilinear plan; the severe and astylar walls; the division of the principal elevation into tiers masked by base and belt courses and a great crowning cornice; the deliberate variation in surface treatment and opening pattern at various tiers; the end pavilions framed by corner pilasters and capped by a triangular pediment, and the central projecting bay with rusticated ashlar quoins and a triangular pediment (replacement for the original triumphal arch feature). Internally, no architectural elements were singled out as having special heritage character status.

The presence of such a large percentage of original fabric characteristic of the Neoclassical industrial style means the Recognized designation applies to the whole exterior of the Workshop including the post 1930 triangular pediment which graces the central projecting bay. Should the opportunity arise, the restoration of the six blocked windows (W. elev.), the removal of two fire escapes (W. elev.), the restoration of four cut down windows being used as exit doors (W. elev.), the removal of the three guard cages (N., E. & S. elev.), the restoration of the semi-circular headed door at the south pavilion (E. elev.), and the restoration of the ground floor window cut down and partially blocked to form a door (E. elev.), would greatly enhance the aesthetic qualities of the building.

The West Workshop plays a key role in physically defining the industrial precinct in the south yard and maintaining the consistency of scale, materials, architectural detail and decorative program of that part of the Institution. The sensitive treatment of architectural fabric in any future rehabilitation of the West Workshop and a restrained approach to development which would impinge further on the remaining open space of the quadrangle it faces, will ensure the heritage character of this building is protected.