From History of Perth County 1825-1902
by William Johnston, published in 1903
It was not till a period subsequent to 1860 that St. Marys began to assume its present appearance.
Prior to that time few good buildings existed, and these were on Queen street.
All fine structures were of stone.
The Oddfellows' hall, the largest and most massive building in St. Marys, is also of stone, and would be creditable to a much larger town.
As late as 1870 brick was not used to any extent for building purposes, all permanent structures being of stone, from which arose that familiar appellation, "Stone town."
Although inexhaustible deposits of rock are found in close proximity, nearly all new structures are now built of brick.
This seems an improvement, relieving that monotonous regularity on the principal street.
As late as 1860 St. Marys could boast of comparatively few residences, and these were modest, indeed.
Excepting a large dwelling, now owned by Messrs. Weir, which crowned the hill-top on Church street south, all others were destitute of ordinary architectural embellishment.
This residence was erected by Mr. Tracey, an old pioneer, who was owner of a portion of that land on which the town is built.
This eminence is now most beautiful, and every way worthy of those luxurious dwellings that nestle here and there amongst a mass of foliage crowning this height.
Forty years ago this spot was naked and bare, presenting a cold and cheerless aspect.
The only public building worthy of mention, even for several years subsequent to 1860, was the central school.
This structure still remains, and although it does not challenge our admiration in its commonplace outlines, it bas the merit of being substantial.
During the autumn of 1859 was complete another rookery, dignified by the appellation of town hall.
This crowning effort of embellishment was quite multifarious in the various objects it was designed to accommodate.
It was built of frame, painted a dirty yellow.
A small erection on its roof like a pigeon-house was denominated the cupola or bell tower.
Its exterior aspect, uncouth though it was, scarcely indicated the conditions of its interior arrangements as far as color or odor was concerned.
It was a useful structure. and within its filthy walls were located a mayor's office, town clerk's office, police office, jail, several butcher stalls, and various repositories for hides, whose redolent effluvia would have indicated a splendid subject for investigation by our present board of health.
This old place was destroyed by fire several years ago, and in 1891 a magnificent new building raised in its stead, worthy of the citizens and highly ornamental to the town.