59 Carden Street

Old City Hall

Renovated into the Provincial Offences Court in 2010

Bylaw: (1978)-9820

Legal description: Pt Market Square, Plan 8

Designated portions

All exterior walls, windows and roof of the City Hall and the City Hall Annex, with the exception of those portions specified in the drawing (included in the by-law), being the south-east wall of the 1875 wing of the City Hall, the two storey stone wall at the south-west end of the City Hall Annex and the one-storey addition at the south-west end of the City Hall Annex.

Property history

Constructed in 1856-57, the Guelph City Hall today stands as one of the finer examples of mid-Nineteenth Century Renaissance Revival architecture. The significance of the building and its architect, William Thomas, in relation to provincial history, is recognized by the commemorative plaque erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board in 1970.

Dolomitic limestone from Guelph quarries was utilized by the contractors, Morrison and Emslie, and the work of local stone cutters and masons remains as a notable example of skilled workmanship. Matthew Bell, of Guelph, had the contract for the carved work and was responsible for the various unique details of the façade.

In 1875, the City Hall was enlarged with the construction of a wing to the south-west which housed a concert hall and additional market space. Great care was taken to relate the design and masonry to that of the original building. Apart from the removal of the clock tower in 1961, very few changes have been made to the exterior of the building. The City Hall Annex, to the south, was constructed about 1865. With some additions, it served as Fire Hall until the 1890’s. Its design is closely related to the City Hall and it was built with similar stone.

In addition to its fine structure and design, the City Hall is historically important as the seat of municipal government and as the focus and background for important events and pageantry during the past 122 years. It remains as a noble setting for varied community activities.

The walls excluded from this designation are seldom visible to the public and the excluded addition has no significance. The exclusions allow the City to retain a potential site for an addition. The interiors of the buildings have been modernized and are not included in the designation.