The 15 acres of Market Block was the core of the city until destroyed by the Great Fire of Toronto in 1849. The devastation prompted a major rebuilding program. One of the principal new structures was St. Lawrence Hall. The copper cupola supported by Corinthian columns was one of several elegant features of the Renaissance Revival design by architect William Thomas. After opening in 1851, the meeting hall quickly became the city’s center for concerts, ballets, exhibitions and political gatherings. Since 1967, the restored National Historic Site of Canada has been available for private meetings and social events.