Somerset House

The Somerset House in Ottawa, Ontario, is on the 2017 Top 10 Endangered Places List.

Created by the National Trust for Canada

June 8, 2017

This image shows a 3 storey building with orange brick.

Location

Ottawa, Ontario

Why it matters

Built in stages beginning in 1896, Somerset House is a prominent downtown landmark on Bank Street, one of Ottawa’s most important streets. A key building in the Centretown Heritage Conservation District, this Queen Anne style building has served many purposes: as a dry goods store, a hotel, and a pub. The building is at the centre of a decade-long battle between the owner and the city.

Why it’s endangered 

The building has become a high-profile example of demolition by neglect and is frequently discussed at City Council. After a partial collapse during renovation work in 2007, city officials stepped in with an emergency repair order on the owner, TKS Holdings. Over the years, several walls and the foundation of the property have deteriorated to the point that they now pose a safety concern. In 2016, the rear façade of the building needed to be torn down. Beyond a series of proposals, the owner has taken no concrete steps towards the rehabilitation of this important building.

Every year, the National Trust publishes its Top 10 Endangered Places List as part of its mission to raise awareness of the value that historic places bring to quality of life, local identity and cultural vitality.

First published in 2005, the Top 10 Endangered Places List has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks, not landfill. The National Trust believes that historic places are cornerstones of identity, community and sense of place, yet every year, more are lost due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. By shining a spotlight on places at risk, the Top 10 Endangered Places List raises awareness about their plight and bolsters the efforts of local advocates working to save them.

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