Description of Historic Place
The Dairy Building consists of a small, one-storey, octagonal structure with two attached wings in the back. It is a wood-frame construction featuring a faceted, conical roof capped by a large decorated multi-gabled lantern and finial. Designed under the Department of Public Works’ Chief Architect Thomas Fuller, the building has painted clapboard siding and includes decorative trim and a single rectangular window centered on four of the five exposed elevations of the octagon. The Dairy Building is located in the northern sector of the picturesque grounds of the Rideau Hall Complex, the home of the Governor General of Canada, in Ottawa.
The Dairy Building was designated a “Recognized” Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, its architectural importance and its environmental value.
The historical significance of the Dairy Building is mainly reflected in its primary role as an ancillary building on the grounds of the Rideau Hall Complex, the home of the Governor General of Canada. The Dairy Building was erected in 1895 during an extensive phased construction campaign at Rideau Hall, aimed at improving the overall operation of the property. The building contained an octagonal dairy room, now used as storage, and an attached office and a milk room, which no longer exist. It was originally built fifty meters southwest of its present location, and was moved to its current site in 1916, situating it between the site’s Gasometer (Dome Building) and Stable Building.
The Dairy Building displays very good aesthetic qualities, and communicates a delightful architectural composition and an effective use of layout and construction. It exhibits an unusual design for its original function. Designed by Thomas Fuller, the octagonal plan repeats a motif used extensively throughout the grounds, while the large eight-sided gabled lantern and finial provide an attractive visual contrast to the more formal architecture of the majority of the Rideau Hall buildings. The building’s intricate form, with its two attached wings each with hip roofs, allows for the placement of the entrance door to one side and the centering of a rectangular, previously double-hung window on four of the five exposed sides of the octagon. The south-side entry is reached via a remnant porch with a turned corner column and two engaged columns. The interior open space is lit by daylight provided by the large glazed lantern, which contributes to the good functional value attributed to the building. The interior walls throughout are clad with narrow vertical v-jointed boards, and similar material is used throughout the various ceilings.
The original craftsmanship and materials were of good quality, as the building has withstood time and a physical relocation. The value associated with craftsmanship and materials remains perceptible in the surviving decorative woodwork including vertical cladding, trim, and clapboard as well as vertical, v-jointed-board sheathing at the lower wall, mid-height horizontal moulding, and narrow-reveal, fine clapboard siding at the upper wall.
The Dairy Building is located in the northern sector of the Rideau Hall Complex, near other ancillary buildings of a similar utilitarian nature such as the Gasometer (Dome Building) and the Stable Building. Though relocated and now joined to the adjacent workshop, the building has maintained a comparable relationship with its immediate setting comprised of trees, shrubs, tended lawn and narrow roadways. The Dairy Building is compatible with the picturesque character of the vice-regal estate setting of the Rideau Hall Complex and has been a familiar sight to the neighboring community using the estate grounds.
The character-defining elements of the Dairy Building to be respected include:
Its role as an ancillary building on the grounds of the Rideau Hall Complex, as reflected in:
— its modest scale, well-built wooden structure and utilitarian function.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, and craftsmanship and materials, as evidenced by:
— its octagonal massing capped by a faceted conical roof and a large multi-gabled lantern and finial;
— its traditional wood frame construction, with two attached wings and hip roofs;
— its painted exterior vertical and horizontal siding, roof eaves, trim and other decorative woodwork made of old-growth white pine;
— the symmetrically-located windows, originally double-hung, on most accessible elevations, and the entrance door and remnant porch to one side;
— the eight-sided lantern windows, providing high-level natural light to the interiors;
— the open quality of its interior space, featuring board sheathing.
The manner in which the building is compatible with the picturesque character of the Rideau Hall Complex, and is familiar to the local community, as demonstrated by:
— its compatible scale and design, which repeats the octagonal form found throughout the estate;
— its visible location within the grounds of Rideau Hall, making it familiar to visitors.