The Lauder/Whiteford Building
Historic Patio Project

The Lauder/Whiteford Building

Author: Connie Carson

Connie is a well-known local story-teller and professional who has a passion for the history of the City of Belleville, in particular, the downtown streets.

This story is one of five included in our Historic Patio Project, encouraging those passing through the streets of Downtown Belleville to learn more about its history.


In 1831 a young doctor and watchmaker called James Whiteford settled in Belleville and quickly established himself by buying property during the great boom. He became an important figure in the local political life and was mayor of Belleville from 1848 to 1849. His obituary in The Intelligencer read; 

“We regret to have to announce the death of James Whiteford, Esq., one of the oldest and most respected inhabitants of the Town. Mr. Whiteford was taken ill but a few days ago while walking in the street, and died this morning in the 73rd year of his age. The deceased has grown with the Town, and his familiar face, and urbane manner will be missed by many a sincere friend.”

James Whiteford married the widow Mary Jamieson Lauder in 1946 and her son William Bletcher Lauder purchased a 29 ft wide lot on the east side of Front Street and built a stone building and shop in 1851. In 1852 Andrew Lauder bought the 26 ft lot adjoining it. In 1855 Andrew Lauder sold his vacant land to William Lauder. 

In 1856 William died. His will left his lots to his mother, Mary Whiteford, who stated, “Wiiliam asked that  a 3-storey building to be built as soon as convenient of brick and stone, containing  two shops on the ground floor… the cost of $2000.” 

After William died, his store building burned down, and the following summer, James Whiteford built two new stores instead of one at 311-313 Front Street in downtown Belleville, naming it the Lauder-Whiteford Building.

The impressive three-storey stone structure with a brick facade has one continuous sill running from one side to the other. The center of the building is aggrandized six inches with a small twin window to light the stairway on each floor. 

Each floor has three rectangular windows with segmental arches. The sills and keystones are cut stone, and the string cornice-like divider jut out where the sill used to be. The corners of the building have quoin-like patterns made from brick and capped with a simple frieze. A sizeable scroll-like modillion braces the simple wood crown moulding.

Owners of the building included  George Howell, 1883-1889, Sir MacKenzie Bowell, 1883-1911, Robert Bateman and Harold Bateman 1912-1926 and 

Deacon Shirt Company bought the building between 1924-1926.

It was home to Wiseman Fashions in the 1950s, Rachels Ladies Wear 1957-1969, Hastings Business for two years, Florences Baby Palace from 1972-1976, Woodmore Fireplace for two years and Ray and Jim Signs from 1980- 2020. Mary L Boutique was a long time tenant as well.

UpFront Gallery and Home Store is now located here.

This impressive brick building contains over 170 years of memories, stories and tall tales of our treasured downtown area.

If you would like to read more of Connie’s work about Belleville’s history, check out The Tin Box Memories series.