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ERA Architects


Alma College Square

illustration of original entry gates to Alma College in front of new housing
illustration of development from aerial view with two midrise buildings lining a street with a courtyard and restored Alma College entry gates
overhead illustration site plan of the development
overhead illustration site plan of the development in contgext with surrounding area
photo of two windows and edges of balconies
photo of numerous windows and balconies of a midrise building
outdoor amphitheater with overgrown vegetation
aerial photo taken from plane in 1963 of original Alma College
photo of teenage girls holding umbrellas walking by the entry gates of Alma College in 1983

Alma College Square

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This significant and historic property is situated on the former grounds of Alma College, an important Victorian-era private girls’ school in St Thomas, Ontario.

The College, although cherished by the community and its many alumnae, was closed in the 1980s and the property, along with its fine Gothic Revival building and rustic ravine amphitheatre, was sold.  After years of neglect and unsuccessful attempts to redevelop the site, the landmark building succumbed to arson and was destroyed.

In 2018, a local developer engaged ERA to generate a phased site plan and a heritage strategy that would interpret and leverage the history of the site, as well as provide much needed housing. A formal ensemble of three apartment buildings was proposed, in a landscaped, campus-like setting. The original entry gates and their fine metalwork and lanterns will be restored with the original axial entry garden. The amphitheatre will be restored for use by the new residential community. To anchor the entire ensemble a sculptural interpretation of the original central spire of the College building will be placed in the spire’s original location, set on the footprint of the college outlined in accent paving and defining a new woonerf court. ERA developed a Conservation and Interpretation Plan and a Heritage Easement Agreement with the City.

Each apartment building will be constructed as a separate phase. Phase 1 is complete and occupied and Phase 2 will soon be underway.

St. Thomas, Ontario
Patriot Properties
Philip Agar Architect Inc.
Arthur Lierman Landscape Architecture / Sierra (construction management)
Scott Weir/David Winterton/Michael Otchie/Zak Fish/Emily Collins/Stuart Chan/Samantha Irvine

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