Classified Federal Heritage Building
Halifax, Nova Scotia
(© Department of National Defence, 1990)
2667 North Park Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1895 to 1899
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Halifax Armoury is a distinctive landmark situated in north central Halifax, it is a huge structure designed in a weighty Romanesque Revival Style and built of red rough faced sandstone. The principle façade is distinguished by its troop door surrounded by a large round arched window and flanked by conical topped stairtowers. Its distinguishing interior feature is its large unobstructed drill hall space. Exterior decorative details include carved stonework, string courses, corbelled banding, deeply set windows and heavy mullions with wide voussoirs set above. The Armoury creates a visually prominent silhouette in the neighbourhood. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Halifax Armoury is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Halifax Armoury is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the theme of the federal government initiatives undertaken at the end of the 19th century to build militia practice and training recruitment centres. The intention was to concentrate the volunteer militia in large urban areas by building drill halls in all major cities. These building acted as centres for volunteer contingents for the South African War. The Halifax armoury is also associated with the Princess Louise Fusiliers, formed in 1869 who saw action in the Riel Rebellion, the South African War and both World Wars.
The Halifax Armoury is an excellent example of the Romanesque Revival Style used for militia architecture at the end of the 19th century. The buildings bold functional design, its very large floor space for the drill hall and the rough-faced red sandstone are its distinguishing characteristics. It is one of the major works of the architect Thomas Fuller. Its construction of solid materials, its specialized features, and its construction techniques express its very good craftmanship. The large, impressive drill hall floor was the time of construction one of the largest uninterrupted, interior spaces in Canada
The Armoury is a distinctive landmark situated in north central Halifax. It has maintained an unchanged relationship to its site and is close to the citadel, which reinforces the setting and its military identity. It plays an important role as a landmark in the neighbourhood.
Jacqueline Adell, Armoury, North and Park Streets, Halifax Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 90-141.
Armoury, North and Park Streets, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Heritage Character Statement 90-141.
The following character-defining elements of the Halifax Armoury should be respected, for example:
Its bold Romanesque Revival Style used for military purposes using good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in:
Its stylistic exterior detailing and the large unobstructed interior space of the drill hall which uses triangular steel Fink trusses. The rectangular symmetrically organised design constructed of red, rough faced sandstone. The principle façade distinguished by its troop door surrounded by a large round arched window and flanked by conical topped stairtowers. The circular, conical roofed towers located at three of the four corners of the building. The fenestration within the arches. The decorative details including carved stonework, stringcourses, corbelled banding, and deeply set windows with multi-panes and heavy mullions with wide voussoirs set above.
Heritage Character Statement
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 Halifax Armoury was built from 1895-99 to designs by Thomas Fuller, the chief Architect of the Department of Public Works. It is the property of the Department of National Defence and now functions as Headquarters, Militia Area Atlantic. See FHBRO Report 90-141.
Reasons for Designation
The Halifax Armoury was designated Classified, in recognition of its historical and architectural significance, and its environmental and landmark value.
The building is one of the best examples of government initiatives undertaken at the end of the 19th century to build militia practice, training and recruitment centres. It is one of five extant regimental drill halls built in major cities in Canada in the last quarter of the 19th century, and the most fully developed. Regionally important, it houses an infantry battalion, the Princess Louise Fusiliers.
Architecturally, it is an excellent example of a bold Romanesque Revival style. The design, functional plan, and novel facilities make the Halifax Armoury an outstanding example of the type. The architectural design and amenities of the drill hall set the standard for subsequent designs across Canada.
The Halifax Armoury was the last major project of Thomas Fuller as chief architect and is one of the best example of his talents.
The Armoury is a distinctive landmark situated in north central Halifax. It has maintained an unchanged relationship to its site and is close to the citadel which reinforces its military identity.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Armoury resides in the massing, formal visual qualities of the stonework of the street facades and fenestration, its functional plan and facilities, and its unchanged dominant presence in its neighbourhood.
The Armoury, a generally two-storey utilitarian building, has the appearance of an important public building because of its bold Romanesque Revival style. The massing is comprised of a two-storey gabled roof drill hall flanked by two-storey flat roofed wings on two sides with a monumental three-storey frontispiece opposite the gable end, and circular, conical-roofed stair towers located at three of four corners. This existing massing is important for the overall character and should be maintained.
The symmetrically organized design has stone arches containing the fenestration and exaggerated repetitive decorative stone details of different sizes, to break down the mass of the building on all four sides. The Cunard Street facade has a central three-storey frontispiece which creates a formal entry and a visually prominent silhouette in the neighbourhood. The design features of the stonework are essential to the heritage character and should be maintained.
The decorative details, which include carved stonework, string courses, corbelled banding, deeply set windows with the multi-panes and heavy mullions, and wide voussoirs above, create an impression of strength and stability. Appropriate measures should be undertaken to ensure the ongoing maintenance and preservation of these intact original features. The original windows and doors should be maintained, repaired or replicated to match if necessary.
The interior of the Armoury incorporated a clear span drill hall, one of the largest of the time, which was accomplished by the use of triangular steel Fink trusses. Planning features included a shooting gallery, a library, a lecture room, a bowling alley and a kitchen. While the recreation features have been modified, the rest of these features remain. Further planning modifications should respect the existing layout. Original interior finishes should be left intact or repaired to match if necessary.
Constructed of red rough-faced Pugwash sandstone surmounting a rough-faced granite foundation, the massive walls are enlivened by bold decorative details, all of which should be preserved and retained as they play an important role in the building's character.
The site is largely unchanged, and the building reinforces present military character of the area and plays an important role as landmark in the neighbourhood.