Description of Historic Place
The Federal Building is located in the commercial district of Thunder Bay. The handsome, medium-sized, Beaux-Arts style building is richly decorated with classically inspired detailing. The flat roofed building features a strong horizontal emphasis and is constructed of light-coloured stone. The building is also enhanced by a projecting central frontispiece that features two-storey columns with Canada’s coat of arms above. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Federal Building a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Federal Building is closely associated with the 1934 Public Works Construction Act (PWCA), which was designed to stimulate the economy during the Depression and to relieve unemployment. The building represents a turning point in the development of Thunder Bay. Its construction is part of a national effort to consolidate government accommodation and upgrade public services, while stimulating the economy of the early 1930s.
The Federal Building is valued for its very good aesthetics. It is an example of the Beaux-Arts style that employs classical decorative elements to achieve a monumental effect. The building shows attention to symmetry, proportion and detail throughout. Excellent craftsmanship and materials are seen in the rich detailing of the exterior stonework and also in the opulence of the interior finishes.
The Federal Building is compatible with the present character of its commercial district setting and is a familiar landmark in the region.
Sources: Joanna H. Doherty, Federal Building, 130 South Syndicate Avenue, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 88-050; Federal Building, 130 South Syndicate Avenue, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 88-050.
The character-defining elements of the Federal Building should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic, good functional design and excellent quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the classical formality of the three-storey, flat roofed, rectangular massing;
- the façade and part of the side finished in light-coloured stone with brick used for the remaining side and rear elevations;
- the projecting columned central pavilion;
- the regularly spaced windows and other external decorative features, including the classical detailing including the rustication of the ground floor, the tall columns, the egg and dart detailing, the cartouches, the clock above the front door and the Dominion Coat of Arms set in the parapet;
- the granite exterior stairway;
- the interior configuration and detailing, including the terrazzo and marble trimmed ground level floors; marble archways, entrances, wainscoting and stairs; bronze elevator doors, grilles, stair rails, door and transom frames; and mahogany stained woodwork on the upper floors.
The manner in which the Federal Building is compatible with the present character of its commercial district setting and is a familiar landmark in the region, as evidenced by:
- its scale, design and materials that harmonize with its downtown surroundings;
- its visibility and familiarity, given its prominent location and ongoing use as a post office and federal offices.