On Thursday November 3, 2016, 7:30 p.m., the Frontenac Heritage Foundation hosted a presentation on the importance of Kingston Penitentiary in the Church Hall of St. John’s Church, on Church Street. Architectural historian Dr. Jennifer McKendry presented an illustrated talk on “The Architectural History & Setting of Kingston Penitentiary”.
Penitentiary architecture presented architects with an opportunity to merge stone and mortar with social theories on how a society should operate. The complex behind the walls on King Street West was called “a school of reform” in 1834 but “a complete failure as a moral school” in 1848. Social theories come and go, but what has remained is a set of handsome stone buildings — some significantly contributing to Canada’s heritage architecture. This talk looked at the penitentiary and harbor from the 1830s to about 1920 – both what was once in place and what has survived. This is of current interest, given the ongoing “visioning” process of how this area may be developed in the future.