Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Department of Public Works / Ministère des Travaux publics, 1994.
505 Fourth Street East, Cornwall, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1938 to 1939
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Public Works
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
Cornwall Armoury is located on generous, flat grounds consisting of a front lawn and mature trees. Constructed of a buff-coloured brick with stone trim, the Cornwall Armoury has a central, crenellated frontispiece and corner towers. Towers also flank the twin troop doors leading to the large drill hall. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Cornwall Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Cornwall Armoury is associated with the expanding requirements of Canada’s militia between the First and Second World Wars. The Cornwall Armoury makes a significant contribution to the city, housing various militia groups such as the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders Militia Unit, the SD&G Cadet Corps, the Stormont Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, Cornwall Cadet Squadron, the Canadian Forces Air Traffic Control Training Unit, and the RSS Central Detachment Cornwall.
The Cornwall Armoury is a good example of a military structure with a façade that features references to the Tudor Revival style. A key element is the large, clear-span volume of the drill hall. The conservative exterior surrounds a modern structural design with a concrete floor supporting a steel frame. The Cornwall Armoury was also designed to a standard plan and is distinguished by a picturesque use of materials and good craftsmanship.
The Cornwall Armoury is compatible with the present commercial character of the downtown setting and is familiar to town residents, to visitors and to those using Fourth Street East.
Sources: Cornwall Armoury, 505 Fourth Street, East, Cornwall, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Screening Notes 94-073; Cornwall Armoury, 505 Fourth Street, East, Cornwall, Ontario, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 94-073.
The following character-defining elements of the Cornwall Armoury should be respected.
Its standard design with Tudor Revival influences, good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the large, symmetrical massing of the principal two-storey façade; the crenellated towers flanking the central, tudor-arched, twin troop doors and corner towers; the buff-coloured brick façade with regularly spaced windows, the stone stringcourses, copings and crenellations; the exposed steel trusses and the uninterrupted volume of the drill hall; the flat-roofed ancillary blocks surrounding the drill hall.
The manner in which the Cornwall Armoury is compatible with the present commercial character of the downtown setting in Cornwall and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by: its large scale, distinctive design and picturesque use of materials which contribute to the surrounding streetscape; the grassed ground plain, the drill field and the mature trees which reinforce the importance of the building; its high visibility and familiarity as a landmark to those in the downtown core and travelling along Fourth Street East.
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 Cornwall Armoury was constructed in 1938-39. It was designed by the Chief Architect's Branch of the Department of Public Works. The building is currently used as a drill hall and armoury. The Department of National Defence is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 94-73.
Reasons For Designation
The Cornwall Armoury was designated Recognized because of its architectural importance and environmental significance as well as its historical associations.
Built to a standard plan, the armoury features Tudor Revival historical style references in the detailing. The main facade has a dominant crenellated frontispiece, centered on the two-storey brick and stone facade. The large, clear-span volume of the gable-roofed drill hall rises behind and is the main part of the building. The exterior massing is dictated by the interior spaces and functional planning.
The armoury contributes significantly the streetscape because of its dominant scale. The generous front lawn and surrounding grounds reinforce the importance of the building. The siting is characteristic of the large, flat sites required for drill exercises.
The armoury is one of twelve constructed between the First and Second World Wars. Its planning and design is associated with the standard plans and designs of the pre-World War One armoury building campaign. The modern structural design, with a concrete floor supporting a steel frame, specifically dates the building to the inter-war years.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Cornwall Armoury resides in its overall form, proportions, construction materials, Tudor Revival architectural details, interior planning and volumes, and site relationships.
The massing of the Cornwall Armoury is dominated by the two-storey, gable roof of the drill hall which is surrounded by flat-roofed, ancillary blocks. The external massing and footprint reflects internal functions; the clarity of this expression should be respected. The two-storey front block has a varied parapet profile and prominent chimneys. The central, twin-towered, crenellated frontispiece with simpler, similarly detailed, side
entrances reinforces the symmetrical composition. The profiles and forms should be maintained.
The commanding presence of the building derives in part, from facades executed in buff brick, with white limestone detailing and decorative carving providing subtle colour and textural contrast. The expressive, Tudor Revival detailing is richly layered on the main facade, while the secondary facades have simpler, flatter moulding details reflecting facade hierarchies and modern detail preferences. These details should be respected. Copper is used for flashings and copings of the masonry and contributes to the visual richness of the walls. The masonry and copper requires an ongoing maintenance program.
The roof of the Cornwall Armoury is a prominent feature of the massing. The current asphalt roofing appears to be a recent installation. The buff colour provides minimal contrast to the masonry and may not follow original design intentions. The next replacement roof material should follow historical precedent for colours and materials.
The wood six-over-six sash windows found in the blocks and the large, multi-paned, steel windows of the drill hall end walls appear to be original. The wood sash with their relatively heavy members contribute a prominent, fine-scaled pattern to the walls; the steel windows reflect Tudor Revival stylistic preferences during the 1930s. The rear glazing of the drill hall has been blocked off with wood panels, thereby greatly reducing interior daylighting while introducing an inappropriate material to the building exterior. The glazed openings should be reinstated and the existing wood and steel window units maintained. The Tudor Revival design is expressed in the original wood entrance doors with their panelling, heavy iron hardware and multi-paned glazing. These should be maintained.
The interior has a standard plan, the drill hall is flanked by ancillary spaces for offices, mess halls and classrooms. The large volume of the drill hall with its exposed steel trusses and extensive glazing is an important space. The spatial openess and bright, well lighted character of hall should be maintained. The interiors with exposed brick walls, steel trusses, and concrete floors exhibit a functional design which should be maintained.
The simple planting scheme reinforces the design, function and dignity of building. Important planting elements are: the grassed ground plain, the symmetrically located, large specimen conifers, the clipped hedges used at the foundation, the single deciduous specimen tree between the armoury building and the drill field, and the clump of cedars that screen the parking lot from the front. The symmetrical twin flagpoles at the entrance reflect the symmetry of the building and should be maintained.