Hamilton’s Historic Architecture: Beautiful Buildings Near McMaster

If you are looking to explore your inner architectural interests, here are a few excellent sites you should visit in the Hamilton area. The beauty and historic architecture of each building can inspire and/or offer a good studying break. So take advantage of this historic architecture while you’re a McMaster student!

Basically, these are must-see locations if you’re new to Hamilton.

Hamilton Hall

hamilton hall
Hamilton Hall is the home of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics

On the McMaster campus, be sure to visit Hamilton Hall. Built in 1930 under the direction of architect William Somerville, the tower design of Hamilton Hall was inspired by the design of Founder’s Tower of Magdalen College at Oxford University [source: Historical Hamilton]. The façade is Collegiate Gothic in style. Known to students as The Department of Mathematics, a statue of a notable Greek mathematician can be seen by the top floor. Hamilton Hall has received a few renovations over its lifetime. However, the most notable changes are by KPMB Architects. Also, the new features of the building designed with the collaboration of mathematicians to “develop an interior concept that would offer a balance of collective and individual space” [source: Canadian Architect].

The challenge included creating and establishing a new architecture within an existing piece of history. While, at the same time, preserving the stone cladding and character of the original features (i.e. its gothic windows).

Another reason for the upgrade is to improve the building’s energy efficiency. The new design articulates the glass panels, skylights, and floor openings. But many original features still remain. Observe the details of the exterior which include sundials carved onto protruding areas below the windows of the stone façade, as well as the original stone framed gothic clerestory windows. This floods the hallways with natural light. Among other transformations are chalkboards, large tables, and benches integrated into common areas and office spaces. These features aim to inspire collaboration and a new discourse among students and faculty.

Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King

cathedral basilica of christ the king
Photo by Greg’s Southern Ontario via Flickr

Next is the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King, located just down the street from McMaster University. Built in 1931-1933, this Roman Catholic Cathedral was constructed by Pigott Construction Company with Hutton and Souter Architects. The interior is 13th Century English Gothic with two varieties of limestone that forms the pillars and walls. The vaulted ceiling and the 235-foot central nave is flanked by dual side aisles, divided by the large pillars of Indiana limestone. The nave is 72 feet in width and 90 feet in height [source: Hamilton Spectator]. In 1981, a fire destroyed part of the Basilica, which required the partial re-building of its stained glass windows.

A marble floor for the intricately detailed marble altar and the rearrangement of the location of the Chancel organ, are among some of the updated interior adaptations. This strengthens the presence of religious symbolism and beautiful architecture in unison. It is a magnificent structure to experience on your own. Discover all of the intricate details when you visit!

Dundurn Castle

dundurn castle historic architecture
Photo by Greg’s Southern Ontario via Flickr

This project is located slightly further away from McMaster University, but that is alright. It is still a notable piece of history you must visit! Dundurn Castle is an example of the neoclassical style — originally designed as a mansion. The 18,000 square foot housing project was complete in 1835 by architect Robert C Wetherell. Additionally, the City of Hamilton spent roughly $3 million on renovations to the site for the public. Many rooms have been restored to match their original appeal. In its earlier days, the castle mansion was famous for its entertainment. The estate has a rich history — owned by Sir Allan MacNab for the majority of its early history. The grounds are now a civic museum with several other attractions such as green spaces, an outdoor theatre, and tours of the castle.

Lastly, McMaster students enjoy visiting Hamilton’s historic architecture. So, go see them for yourself! You might discover some new inspiration. Or, perhaps, you have an interest in history. If that’s the case, check out The Best Canadian Universities for History Buffs. After viewing all of this beauty, this might be your new passion!

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Published on January 29, 2020

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