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From Friends of Guild Park’s Facebook Page:
To mark their 140th anniversary, a series of old architectural artifacts are now on public display throughout Guild Park.
Below is a brief Who’s Who of the hand-carved bas-reliefs that originally decorated the façade of the Richmond Building, which opened in 1881 in downtown London, Ontario.
These six profiles can be admired as part of new tableaus that also serve as seating for park visitors.
The installation project was completed July 2021 by the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Department.
Representing music and drama
Off Guildwood Parkway, at the secondary entry to Guild Park’s front gardens.
- 19th century Italian composer Gioachino Rossini and
- 17th century French playwright, Jean-Baptiste Moliere (his play The Misanthrope, was performed at the park in 2013 by Guild Festival Theatre)
At the entry to the “switchback” trail leading to Guild Park’s waterfront.
- American inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin.
Representing painting and literary arts
At the park entrance off Livingstone Road.
- Raphael, the Renaissance painter,
- Peter Paul Rubens, the 17th century Flemish (modern-day Belgium) artist, and
- Irish writer, poet and lyricist, Thomas Moore.
The information above is based on a newspaper report published by the London (Ontario) Advertiser August 13, 1881, the year the building on Richmond Street first opened.
At the time, the original, ornate structure was named the Grand Opera House and Masonic Temple. It included a theatre, plus space for meetings, stores and offices.
Thanks to Cindy Hartman, president of London & Middlesex Historical Society, for providing this info.
Spencer Clark, who with his wife, Rosa, owned and operated the Guild from 1932 to 1978, saved 17 bas-relief carvings when the Richmond Building was demolished in 1968. Since then, most of these architectural features had been stored on-site, but out of public view.
In October 2020, the City’s EDC began installing the first three Richmond Building “profiles” at Guild Park:
Located near the patio of the original Guild Inn are:
- British Queen Victoria, and
- her son and heir, A. Edward (the future King Edward VII).
Located between Guild Park’s two forest boardwalks, west of the new Clark Centre for the Arts is:
- the bas-relief of Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, who sailed to North America in 1492.