The Kirk Block, located on the southwest corner of Main and Church Streets, was purchased by Duncan Grant Kirk from William Thompson in 1881 for $2000. D.G. Kirk along with his father, Adam Kirk, erected the 81' by 90' brick building in 1883. The architect for the Kirk Block was J.W. Chisholm; Dewar Brothers of Barney's River did the framework. As a retail and wholesale business, A. Kirk & Co. sold dry goods, millinery, clothing, carpets, furniture, boots and shoes, flour, meal and groceries. Until 1906, the Merchant's Bank (predecessor of the Royal Bank of Canada) was housed in the Kirk Block; the bank manager lived in an apartment above the bank. In 1915, John Kennedy and Alexander K. MacDonald, both railroad contractors, purchased the Kirk Block for $15,000. They devoted their business to dry goods, millinery, ready-to-wear garments, furniture, carpets, and general household goods. They also operated a mail order business in Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness and Richmond Counties.
The 3-storey Kirk Block, with its symmetrical facade, flat roof and round-arched windows, was typical of late 19th-century Italianate commercial architecture which dotted the mainstreets of Canada; only the traditional ornate cornice is missing. Although the basement foundation is stone, the superstructure was fashioned from 300,000 bricks manufactured at Hulbert's Brickyard on James Street. In keeping with the Italianate taste for accentuating the interplay of light and shade, the stuccoed brick facade contrasts with the segmental brick arched windows. It is interesting to note that the contract for the Kirk Block originally called for a mansard metal roof. Projecting solidity without being overtly ostentatious, the Kirk Block must have been an imposing addition to Antigonish's Main Street in the 1880s. After all, it marked a real break from the other stores, with their rustic milled lumber facades, false fronts and gabled roofs, which were often more residential than commercial in appearance.