Windsor City Hall

350 City Hall Square West, Windsor, ON.

Windsor City Hall was among the first of the new town halls to be constructed in Ontario in the post-war period.  Like those that were to follow in Ottawa, Sarnia, Hamilton, and Toronto, the design of Windsor City Hall reflects themes of economic expansion and modern civic identity.  At Windsor, the city hall marked a phase of downtown renewal.

Architects Sheppard and Masson’s design was the third city hall for Windsor, replacing the Central Public School building that had served as the municipal government’s headquarters since 1903.  The City Hall was sited at Civic Square, home to the late nineteenth century All Saints Church and rectory, as well as the 1924 Essex County War Memorial Cenotaph.

Windsor City Hall was conceived as an object in a landscape; that is, a civic institution viewed and approached from all sides within Civic Square, a park-like setting of lawns and floral gardens.  The massing of the building expresses the various functions within: a four-storey office slab for administration, a double-height council chamber, and a five-storey tower for vertical circulation.  The north elevation originally featured an open arcade and entrance at the west, but this was subsequently enclosed.

The composition of the building is resolutely modern, as evidenced in the balanced asymmetry of the north elevation facing Civic Square.  Furthermore, the composition and its constituent elements are generally characterized by a crisp rectilinear geometry.  The tower, with its limestone cladding and inscription, terminates a civic esplanade that extends several blocks to the north to Riverside Drive, with the Detroit River beyond.

Windsor City Hall features fine quality materials and craftsmanship.  The architects employed both traditional materials such as clay brick, limestone, and granite, as well as modern ones such as enameled steel and aluminum.

City Hall is an important work of the prolific Windsor firm of Sheppard and Masson, and one of the most significant examples of the modern movement in Essex County.

The building has been in continuous use as the seat of the city government and its administration since Windsor City Hall was inaugurated in 1956.  It has been the center for many important community events and is an integral part of the civic center of Windsor.

The building is scheduled for demolition in 2018, following the opening of the new Windsor City Hall.