Saturday, April 28, 2012

Evolution of a plan - The Campeau Centre Hall Design

When you hear the word 'Tara', many of you will immediately think of the grand plantation house from the movie Gone With the Wind. This type of grand house with a symmetrical facade and centre-hall plan, has long been a symbol of luxury and grandeur.
In the mid-century this type of house was built by many builders in Ottawa. In some areas it was the only type of house built. In this posting I will look at the centre-hall plans built by Campeau and explore how the design changed over the years.

In the 1950s Campeau had very few 2-storey designs, as bungalows and 1 1/2 storey houses were the norm. As such, the centre-hall plan did not appear in their design catalogue until the 1960s.

c. 1962. Riverside Park and Graham Park

This is an early example of a Campeau centre-hall plan. It is actually a contemporary take on the design, with a facade that is not perfectly symmetrical because of the staircase placement. The large 4 bedroom design was quite luxurious for the time. 

c. 1964. Playfair Park
One of the key traditions of the center-hall plan is to have the living room on one side of the foyer and the dining room on the other, with the kitchen behind. This design had 3 exterior options, including a modern option below.

C. 1965. Playfair Park, Russell Heights
This design and the two below are essentially the same, just with different facades.
C. 1965. Playfair Park, Russell Heights

C. 1965. Playfair Park, Russell Heights
<>The columns on this design are a direct reference to the grand plantations houses of the American South much like Tara in Gone With the Wind. While the house is not huge, the columns make it look much larger.<>
C. 1966. Playfair Park, Riverside Park, Leslie Park

This traditional design with dormers, looks smaller than a 2-storey facade, but still has the classic centre-hall plan.

C. 1966. Playfair Park, Riverside Park, Leslie Park.
One of my favourite features of a classic centre-hall plan is the large living room with windows on the front and the back of the house.

c. 1967. South Keys, Beacon Hill
With the growing popularity of a main-floor family room, the design of Campeau's centre-hall plans was tweaked in the late 1960s to allow this additional room.

c. 1973
While in the past, the centre-hall plan was wide and shallow, by the 1970s, the addition of a large family room, made many of these plans quite deep.

c. 1976. Arlington Woods

With a large house on a wide lot, the centre-hall plan can be very grand. In this example, the house actually extends behind the garage - which once again allows for a living room with windows on the front and back of the house.

c. 1977. Rolling Meadows (Barrhaven)

Instead of the garage just being an appendage to the design - like in earlier versions - by the 1970s, the space behind the garage was put to use.
c. 1977. Hunt Club Chase

A wider centre-hall plan allows for a grand curved staircase, as in the designs above and below.
c. 1977. Hunt Club Chase
c. 1979. Hunt Club Woods

Even on the cusp of the 1980s, the centre-hall plan continued to be popular.
In more recent years, lot sizes have shrunk, so the centre-hall plan is often not possible. It appears every so often on corner lots, where the house can be situated along the long side of the lot.

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