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Save a Piece of History

Top off the Petrie


The Petrie Building Needs You! 

Guelph's iconic Petrie Building is being restored, and we are looking to the community to save iconic upper section. The building owners are repairing the façade from the fourth-floor roof down to the existing base.  However, over the past 100 plus years, the iconic ornamental upper section which sits on top of the building has suffered extensive deterioration, several of its original decorative elements have been lost or destroyed due to a lack of maintenance, and its internal structure has rotted through. 


The upper façade section is an intrinsic part of downtown Guelph, it rises above the building and also hangs out over Wyndham Street and is in urgent need of repair or it will be lost forever.


The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) and community leaders and volunteers have kicked off this campaign with a goal of raising $100,000 to “Top off the Petrie” and to save the upper facade. The Downtown Guelph Business Association has jump-started the campaign with a commitment to match the first $24,000 in community contributions.


The campaign to restore this nationally recognized heritage resource is being lead by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) which will issue charitable tax receipts for all funds donated.  The ACO will also manage all funds, approve all budgets and oversee the project.  


All donors will also receive permanent recognition on a plaque in the building’s new lobby. Don’t miss this opportunity to “Restore a piece of the Petrie” and donate today!

About the Building


The top of the facade is distinguished by a bold cornice with a broken pediment framing a large mortar and pestle, a reminder of the building's original function as a pharmacy.

Designed by Guelph architect John Day

Over a hundred years of decay has taken its toll on the facade.

The galvanized zinc ornaments on the façade were manufactured for Petrie by the Ohio Firm of Bakewell and Mullins, specialists in architectural sheet metal working.

One company remains in North America that manufactures ornamental elements like these on the Petrie Building, W.F. Norman Corp. in Missouri uses dies dating back to 1898. They are also able to replicate the missing elements at the top of the Petrie Building.

The Petrie Building is Canada's only pre-1890 building with an intact stamped galvanized zinc and sheet metal facade.

The 1882 façade is not part of the structure of the building, it is essentially a piece of artwork that hangs on the front and sits on the top.

The ornamentation on the façade is made from galvanized zinc, the rest of the façade cladding is galvanized sheet steel.

The façade pieces were ordered from the Bakewell and Mullins mail order catalogue, manufactured in Ohio and then attached by local metal workers in Guelph.

It is stylishly ornamented and embellished with details of corn, laurels, pineapple and impressive lion heads.

Built in less than a year, the Petrie Building incorporated the popular building technology of the late 1800s that was used as a substitute for wood, stone or cast iron.

There are only three documented buildings in Canada erected prior to 1890 with full sheet-metal façades.

It is four storied structure recognized in 2014 as one of Canada's 10 most endangered places by Heritage Canada the National Trust.

Expresses a prosperous era in Guelph’s commercial growth.

Other buildings similar to the Petrie include Victoria Hall in Hamilton and the Empire Hotel in Winnipeg.

About The Building  

The Petrie Building is Canada’s last remaining example of a pre-1890 machine stamped metal clad building.  Restoring this downtown landmark is an investment in Guelph that will last a long, long time. Once completed, the Petrie Building owner will enter into a Heritage Easement with the City of Guelph which is a commitment that the restored exterior will be maintained for the future.


The Petrie Building has been a downtown Guelph icon since opening in 1882. It was designed by architect John Day for businessman A.B. Petrie, who ran a pharmacy on the ground floor. Petrie was an entrepreneur, community leader, bank president, city councilor and he had several buildings constructed in Guelph.


The Petrie Building is one of three remaining Canadian buildings built before 1890 that had full metal façades, and is now truly one of a kind, as it is the only remaining machine, stamped building.


The façade was made by Bakewell & Mullins in Ohio, which ran a mail-order business that allowed customers to create the façade that best suited their plans. A. B. Petrie customized the façade for his building crowned by the iconic mortar and pestle (tools of the day for a pharmacy).

Read more about the building here!

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The Restore The Petrie Façade Campaign 

The Restore the Petrie Façade is a crowdsourcing campaign focused on replacing the missing elements on the metal façade. It is part of a collective effort to save the façade involving Tyrcathlen Partners, the City of Guelph and the Community. This $375,000 effort has two parts:


  1. Restoring the existing exterior of the building estimated to cost approximately $300,000 and to be paid for by Tyrcathlen Partners and supported by up to $91,000 in tax relief from the City of Guelph over the next years.

  2. Replacing the lost elements (link Missing Elements to the page with the image of the missing elements) including the destroyed lower section and fabrication and installation of missing pieces estimated to cost approximately $75,000. The objective of the Restore the Petrie Façade is to raise these funds from members of the Guelph community. All funds raised will be collected and receipted by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO). The ACO will work with Tyrcathlen to ensure proper allocation of the donated funds.

Read more about the campaign here!

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Contact Us 

111 Farquhar St., Box 100

Guelph, ON N1H 3N4​

Tel: 519-823-2974


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