The original Red Brick Building was built in 1904 as three townhouse apartments. For roughly the past 35 years, the bottom floors of the building have housed commercial businesses and in 2005 a fire destroyed one of the three commercial/residential units.

 
Prior to Renovation
THE RED BRICK BUILDING (C. 1904)
FOR THE EMPIRE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

261-263½ King Street, Kingston, Ontario

Frontenac Historic Foundation Award

The design of the building comes from the “Second Empire” architectural style so named for the design elements that were popular during the French Second Empire. The style is characterized by high mansard roofs, dormer windows as well as sculptured details around the entrances, windows and doors. Many of the design elements were maintained during the renovation.

Empire Life’s Building Committee and Ernest A. (Al) Cromarty, the Architect, considered all options for redevelopment including demolition and determined that retention of façade, the addition of a fourth floor and extending the rear of the building to create additional space and a connecting link to the main floor lobby entrance of the adjacent Empire Life Building best achieved their objectives of efficient office space and a strong oriented image.

Upon approval of the design, the façade was secured, the interior was gutted, the basement was filled-in, the rear of the building was excavated to accommodate an extension, the original roof was removed as well as the back wall, a fourth floor was added, a glass paneled link to the main lobby was built, an elevator and handicapped washrooms were installed, two kitchenettes and a back extension were also added. The building was re-pointed, provided with new windows and many of the original details were replicated in a sympathetic fashion

With the addition of the fourth floor and back extension, the Red Brick Building offers 12,000 square feet of meeting and office space.

To avoid the unsightly look of an elevator box on top of the roof, a piston-style hydraulic elevator was installed requiring a 60-foot deep hole.

The original Second Empire styling of the Red Brick Building has been retained with the mansard roof, limestone base, round head dormers, detailed window trims, corner balconies and bay windows.

A fireplace from the first floor of the original building was retained and restored and now graces the wall in front of the meeting rooms and the walls surrounding the first floor elevator area are adorned with reclaimed brick from the interior walls of the original building. The brass light fixtures by the first floor elevator and the brass plaque in the Heritage Room were originally in the Locomotive Building at the Corner of Ontario and William Streets.