UNB Old Arts Building

UNB Old Arts Building

Sir Howard Douglas Hall, previously known as the Old Arts Building, is the oldest university building in Canada that still serves as an active part of a university campus. It is situated on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton


Old Arts Building

In 1825, a competition took place to determine the design of the building that would house King’s College. Barrack-master John Woolford’s Palladian design emerged as the winner, earning him £25. When construction began in 1826, Woolford’s original plans were modified to replace the proposed dome, balustrade, and clock with a simpler and more cost-effective pediment.

unb old arts building
Old Arts Building at UNB before addition of the third storey in 1876. (Photo NB Museum, Webster Collection)
Sir Howard Douglas
Sir Howard Douglas

Lieutenant-Governor Sir Howard Douglas officially opened the building on January 1, 1829. The first floor housed a chapel, dining room, library, classroom, and faculty apartments; the second floor consisted of students’ apartments; and the basement contained servants’ quarters, a kitchen, and laundry facilities.


Between 1876 and 1877, a third story was added to the building, replacing the original shallow hip roof with the current mansard roof. The Great Hall showcases portraits of past presidents and a permanent exhibit detailing the university’s history, including the cornerstone of the building, which was laid in 1826 and unearthed in 1978 before the sesquicentennial celebrations. Adjacent to the Hall is the Edwin Jacob Chapel, featuring benches adorned with carved initials, dates, and names from over a century ago, as well as stained glass windows designed by renowned Canadian artist Molly Lamb Bobak.

UNB also held classes in the 1940’s at Alexander College on the Fredericton Exhibition Grounds.

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