Historic Buildings of Perth Ontario

Perkins Building - 2 Wilson Street East

The Perkins Building at the corner of Wilson and Peter Streets, has been unique in Perth since its construction in 1946-47. With the end of World War II, there were long waiting lists for new automobiles. Joe Perkins realized the need for a larger garage and showroom space. He combined General Motors and International Harvestor dealerships to appeal to both town and country clientele.

Three properties were purchased and cleared to make room for this impressive building. Designed by architect A.L. Radbourne, in consultation with Mr. Perkins, this modern structure combined Art Moderne and early international architectural styles. This modern form was developed in Europe, but it was the 1932 exhibition at the Modern Museum of Art in New York City that launched the style in North America.

Mr. Perkins hired contractors from Arnprior and Montreal to construct the new building, using methods which were as progressive as the style of architecture. Dominion Structura; Steel Company of Montreal raised the steel skeleton. Instead of using traditional load bearing walls, the building rests on the internal skeleton of steel girders and posts. The walls are hung from this frame, allowing the curved walls and large panels of glass in the showrooms and office. The flat roof, curving walls, glass blocks, with emphaisis on horizontal lines, is the signature of the International architectural style. M. Sullivan and Sons, along with E. Kerr of Arnprior, were hired to finish the interior and exterior. The exterior walls were stuccoed and painted a neutral colour. The showroom was large enought to display three cars.

This painting by local Realistic artist, Craig Campbell, shows the building as it was at this time.

The upper floor was divided and the back portion housed an eight-lane bowling alley. Perkins Bowling Lanes were the first indoor bowling lanes in Perth. The front portion has been offices for a number of different enterprises - from the O.P.P., Taggart Services, a business school and chartered accountant's office.

In 1982 the exterior was re-stuccoed and painted much as the original building. The gas pumps, then Texaco, were removed in 1990.

The building remained in Perkins hands until 1991. In 1994, Mr. John Stewart of Commonwealth Historic Resource Management purchased it and turned it into a mini-mall. With sympathetic planning, the original integrity of the building was retained and re-named "Perks 'N' Things".

Matheson House - 11 Gore Street East

Matheson House is located in the heart of downtown heritage Perth. This elegant stone dwelling was declared a National Historic Site in 1966, and became the home for the Perth Museum. Four period rooms reflect the lifestyle of the well-to-do Scottish merchant, the Honourable Roderick Matheson, and his family, who owned the house for 90 years.

Roderick Matheson came to Canada from Scotland at the age of 13. After serving in the War of 1812, he moved to Perth as a half pay officer and established the mercantile business now known as Shaw’s of Perth. In 1840 he built this fine Georgian home of local sandstone where he and his second wife raised twelve children. By 1860 he was a wealthy man owning 8,000 acres of land in and around Lanark County including 20 houses in Perth. Matheson was a staunch Tory all his life and when his friend John A. MacDonald formed his first government in 1867, he was named to the Dominion Senate.

As a tribute to Roderick, one of Perth’s most influential citizens, the Matheson House was bought in 1966 by the Town of Perth, and restored to its original splendour. The museum, which was founded in 1925, was then moved to these premises.

The house contains 4 period rooms. The dining room, parlour, kitchen and drawing room all contain furniture of the time period, much of it original Matheson pieces that have been carefully restored to present the very elegant surroundings the Mathesons would have no doubt enjoyed. The dining room contains a 52 piece set of handpainted china from England as well as other pieces of china and silver belonging to the Mathesons and other notable families of early Perth.

The drawing room, laid out in classical Georgian style, has many unique architectural elements. This was the room dedicated to entertaining frequent visitors, whereas the parlour/library was used as the family room. It is furnished with books and games, framed photographs, a papier mache sewing basket and other examples of everyday family life in the 19th century. Just down the hall is the warm and welcoming 1840's kitchen with its large stone fireplace. Many visitors call the kitchen their favourite room.

Inge-Va - 66 Craig Street

Inge-Va is one of Perth's most famous houses. It was built in 1823 for Reverend Michael Harris, the first Episcopalian minister in the district. By 1833 this classic Colonial Georgian cottage was the home of lawyer Thomas Mabon Radenhurst and his student Robert Lyon, victim of Canada’s Last Fatal Duel which was fought on the banks of the Tay in 1833. It was named Inge-Va (Tamil for "come here") by the third owner, Ella Inderwick, who purchased the property from the Radenhurst family in the 1890s. The Inderwicks had previously lived in Ceylon.

It was donated to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1974.

Archaeologists made a startling discovery at Inge-va in 1988 [ see Ontario Archaeological Society, Inc.]. While excavating the site of a privy from the Radenhurst period, they unearthed thousands of pieces of dishes, glasses and kitchenware. It appeared that at some point the Radenhursts had thrown out everything they had used to consume meals. See Why?

Here are some interior views of Inge-va:

External Links

Many building in Perth Ontario are listed in the Ontario Heritage Properties Database