top of page

Sparks Street: Look up, look wayyyyy up!

Of the top visual and historic destinations to visit in Ottawa – Sparks Street is right in the heart of them. Welcome to your personal & pedestrian travel hub.

Sparks Street is often distinguished by the boldness of its decorative multicoloured masonry, its fenestration and its rooflines - Victorian Italianate style, Renaissance Revival, Romanesque Revival, Beaux-Arts, Art Deco... Look up, look wayyyyy up - discover the detail and story behind every facade.

Beaux Arts 1885-1925 An opulent subset of the Neoclassical and Greek Revival architectural styles. A dominant design during the Gilded Age, Beaux Arts was a popular but short-lived movement in North America.

Also known as Beaux-Arts Classicism, Academic Classicism, or Classical Revival, Beaux Arts is a late and eclectic form of Neoclassicism. It combines classical architecture from ancient Greece and Rome with Renaissance ideas. Beaux-Arts architecture became part of the late 19th century American Renaissance movement.

Beaux Arts is characterized by order, symmetry, formal design, grandiosity, and elaborate ornamentation. Architectural characteristics include balustrades, balconies, columns, cornices, pilasters, and triangular pediments. Stone exteriors are massive and grandiose in their symmetry; interiors are typically polished and lavishly decorated with sculptures, swags, medallions, flowers, and shields. Interiors will often have a grand stairway and opulent ballroom. Large arches rival the ancient Roman arches.

Beaux-Arts style is most commonly used for public buildings like museums, railway stations, libraries, banks, courthouses, and government buildings. (Source: Craven, Jackie. "Discover the Beauty of Beaux Arts." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020,

Some Examples of Beaux-Arts on Sparks Street:

  • 119 Sparks Street

  • 125 Sparks Street

  • 47-59 Sparks Street

  • 180 Wellington Street

Beaux Arts on Sparks

Romanesque Revival 1840-1900

Buildings of Romanesque Revival style are most easily identified by their pronounced round arches and heavy, massive stone or brick construction. Most have round towers, squat columns and decorative plaques with intricate or interlacing patterns. Since masonry buildings were more expensive to build than wooden ones, Romanesque Revival structures are less common than some of the other Victorian era styles executed in wood. With its strong sense of gravity and permanence, the Romanesque Revival style was especially suited to churches, university buildings, prisons and other public buildings. (Source:

  • Masonry construction

  • Round arches at entrance windows

  • Heavy and massive appearance

  • Polychromatic stonework on details

  • Round tower

  • Squat columns

  • Decorative plaques

Some Examples of Romanesque Revival on Sparks Street:

  • 177-179 Sparks Street

  • 181-183 Sparks Street

Romanesque Revival

Art Deco 1925-1940

The Art Deco style is one of the easiest to identify since its sharp-edged looks and stylized geometrical decorative details are so distinctive.

Art Deco buildings have a sleek, linear appearance with stylized, often geometric ornamentation. The primary façade of Art Deco buildings often feature a series of set backs that create a stepped outline. Low-relief decorative panels can be found at entrances, around windows, along roof edges or as string courses. Art Deco buildings feature distinctive smooth finish building materials such as stucco, concrete block, glazed brick or mosaic tile. Decorative details can incorporate various artistic or exotic motifs to suit the building's function or the architect's whim.

  • Smooth wall surface

  • Sharp edged, linear appearance

  • Stylized decorative elements using geometrical forms, motifs zigzags, chevrons

  • Low relief decorative panels

  • Stepped or set back front facade

  • Strips of windows with decorative spandrels

  • Reeding and fluting around doors and windows

Some Examples of Art Deco on Sparks Street:

  • 144 Wellington Street

  • 130 Sparks Street (Hardy Arcade)

  • 62 Sparks Street (now Riviera restaurant)

  • 47-59 Sparks Street Postal Station B

For more Sparkitecture visit:

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page