Description of Historic Place
The Chippawa Town Hall is located at the intersection of Main Street and Cummington Square in the former village of Chippawa. It is a fine example of simplified Greek Revival storefront architecture. The Chippawa Town Hall is easily recognized by its large plate glass windows, and rooftop clock tower.
The Chippawa Town Hall was recognized for its heritage value in 1983 under City of Niagara Falls By-law 83280.
The Chippawa Town Hall was built in the old town square, which was situated amongst many of the businesses in Chippawa. Chippawa later became a part of Niagara Falls. This choice of location for the hall was strategic in that it's presence effectively contributed to an atmosphere that encouraged social, political, and economic development. The visibility of the clock tower established Chippawa Town Hall as a landmark for the surrounding community. Currently it is recognized as being the only structure with its original façade that remains on the old town square and it's continued presence still encourages economic, political and social development in this area of the city.
Precipitated by the opening of the Welland Canal in 1829, by the 1840s, Chippawa was a thriving town. A wide variety of business establishments were located around Cummington Square. The land for the Chippewa Town Hall was purchased by Fraser and Stephenson in 1841 and the building was constructed a year later, operating initially as a general store. Chippawa experienced a sharp decline in population and prosperity over the next decade and official town business was carried out in a hotel. Subsequent to 1851, Chippawa Council purchased the general store building to use as a town hall. The lower floor was rented to tenants in the grocery and dry goods trade. Part of the space upstairs was rented out for dances, church benefit shows, religious plays, travelling shows with minstrels and local civic association meetings. The remaining area was used to conduct political business for the town, establishing the building as a civic landmark. After Chippawa amalgamated with the City of Niagara Falls in 1970, the building became a community centre. As the centre of the small community, now within the larger community of Niagara Falls, its historical uses over time have continued to encourage the social, economic and political development of the Chippewa community.
The Chippawa Town Hall is a fine example of Greek Revival commercial storefront architecture, a formal mode of building popular in the 1840s-1850s. Typical of this commercial variation of Greek Revival style, decoration of this building was achieved not by ornament or detail but by the use of form in the interplay of receding and projecting planes that create variations in light and dark. Its use as a commercial establishment is highlighted by the large plate glass windows with deep reveals, providing the variation of light and dark, as well as the square form of the building. The lower storey façade is evenly divided by four plain pilasters with simplified Doric capitals. A distinguishing feature of the building is the cream-coloured clock tower that is visible over many of the other buildings in the area. The expensive granite façade is a surface facing, while the structure underneath and on the side façade are composed of a yellowish-grey coursed rubble stone found in the Niagara peninsula and often associated with the buildings in the Falls area.
The Chippawa Town Hall has been a social hub for Chippawa residents and its multifunctional use as a site for social events, including dances and local civic association meetings have created a cohesion within the Chippawa community and many of these bonds have been used to encourage the areas development in Niagara Falls.
Sources: Chippawa Town Hall Bylaw 83280, Planning and Development, City of Niagara Falls, 1983; “Early Architecture of the Town and Township of Niagara”, Stokes, The Niagara Foundation; “Niagara Then and Now: Chippawa Town Hall”, The Review, May 29, 1999.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of Chippawa Town Hall include its:
- large plate glass windows with deep reveals that provide light and dark variation
- square form
- granite façade
- yellowish-grey coursed rubble, often used throughout the Niagara Peninsula
- cream-coloured clock tower, visible over other buildings in the area
- its central location in the old town square of Chippawa