London is a heritage rich city…

There are countless historic buildings, figures, and monuments and we’re home to several committees and organizations whose sole purpose is to focus on restoration and preservation of London’s heritage.

Throughout the Forest City, you can often see blue circles on various buildings and sites. You may also be familiar with white signs scattered around the Old East Village. But what are these, and what do they mean? Or, if you know your home or a particular structure is of historical significance, how can you get them?

Let’s take a look at the differences between the three types of historical designation here in the city. We’ll see what they mean, where you find them, and how designation can be obtained.

Original Home Owners Plaques

While strolling around the OEV, SoHo, and Wortley Village, gawking at all their beauty, you can often see signs on houses stating the year it was built, by whom, and/or the original owners’ occupation. These additions to the homes are not a City initiated program, but the work of the Old East Village Community Association.

Often, occupations state “Labourer,” “Rope Maker,” or “Editor.” This one’s a bit of a mystery! Photo by Nicole Borland.

If you’re interested in adding some historical flair to your own home, or can’t think of what to get your parents for their birthdays, here are some reliable resources to dig up your home’s past to create your very own sign.

You can visit the London Public Library’s: History of Your House, to find out more about your home and its origins (and whether or not a vampire ever lived there…)

Heritage Sites Committee Plaques

The Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board, is a volunteer run organization that identifies and marks historic buildings, places, and people of significance. Since 1970, the committee has commemorated these important elements of London’s history with their informative plaques placed around the city.

Blue Heritage Plaque
A home at 80 Ridout Street was one of London’s first estates. After it was demolished in 1972, the plaque was moved to the London Room in the Central Library. Photo by Emma Marr.

Along with their work in preserving historic sites, the committee also created a walking guide to historic London, which is full of fascinating local history on buildings, places, and the people who in habited them. You can purchase a copy at many local bookstores or read it online here.

What once was London East’s historic Town Hall now stands in the Old East Village as Aeolian Hall. Photo by Nicki Borland

Other buildings and sites you can check out with these plaques include: Banting House, Green Gables, Locust Mount, Waverley Mansion, Aeolian Hall, and many more!

Heritage Designation Plaques 

These blue circles you see around town (primarily in the OEV, downtown, and Woodfield areas), are city certified designations that can be obtained for a heritage property. That includes both buildings of historic significance; as well as personal homes where the original historic character has been maintained.

Heritage Property London Ontario
Heritage designation as it appears on London’s famous Blackfriar’s bridge. Photo by Thomas Sayers.

Did you know that London has approximately 3,900 heritage designated properties? When you obtain the heritage designation, the city places your building in an inventory that lists important information about the property and its heritage features. You can even look at the various properties on this nifty city map.

Take a little walk about in some of the above mentioned areas, you’ll be surprised at how many homes and buildings you see garnished with these little blue gems!

So, how do you get a designation?

Through the city, you can follow these 6 steps to receiving your very own heritage property designation.

  1. Write to the London Advisory Committee on Heritage (directed through the Planning Division to request designation.
  2. Working with the Advisory Committee, City staff reviews and prepares reasons for designation.
  3. The London Advisory Committee on Heritage makes its recommendation to the Planning and Environment Committee of Council.
  4. The Planning and Environment Committee makes its recommendation to Council.
  5. If Council approves, a “Notice of Intent to Designate” is advertised three times in the London Free Press over a 30-day period.
  6. If no objections have been filed, Council gives its final decision.

Is there something extra special about your home or a structure you love? Look into pursuing designation!

Keep an eye out when you’re strolling around the city next, there are so many interesting buildings, people, and landmarks waiting to be discovered.

Feature photo by Nicole Borland. 


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