Special Report: City Hall

City Hall Marble Lines Drainage Ditch

The white Cherokee marble that cladded City Hall before it was replaced with concrete now lines a drainage ditch near Book Road in Ancaster.

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 13, 2010

Graham Crawford, the owner of HIStory + HERitage on James North, has discovered the final resting place of the white Cherokee marble that previously adorned City Hall before the renovation committee decided to replace it with concrete.

Its broken pieces line a drainage ditch in Ancaster.

Poster: Last ditch effort brings Hamilton City Hall marble to Ancaster
Poster: Last ditch effort brings Hamilton City Hall marble to Ancaster (Image Credit: Neenernet.net)

The poster reads:

The white Cherokee marble that once clad Hamilton's City Hall now lines a drainage ditch on private property in Ancaster.

Let each citizen treasure the smallest symbols of their city, lest they become the shameful refuse of thoughtless officials.

Crawford's brother-in-law spotted it when driving along Book Road in Ancaster. Crawford took a photograph and made the poster displayed above.

He writes:

It is without a doubt the marble from City Hall. What a disgraceful ending to something that began with such symbolism. Stan Roscoe told me personally that he selected the marble because he wanted to communicate purity. It ends up in a drainage ditch!

Crawford is preparing a piece with more details to go into next month's issue of H Magazine.

Additional words fail me.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Anders (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 21:28:48

does Lloyd Ferguson own the property? This is sick.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 21:46:33

I didn't think it could get any worse than the dull, flat, mismatched, badly installed concrete slabs. There truly are no words. On time, on budget, and in a ditch. This is Ferguson's legacy.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 21:54:06

Unbelievable. What a disgrace.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 22:19:42

I can't even comment... just at a loss...

We'll probably find out that the black marble pillars from the Connaught lobby are in someone's Ancaster house too.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 22:27:03

Have people seen these results of a poll:

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2010/04/re...

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By Peter (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 22:49:26

I'm an "Overseas Hamiltonian" and let me tell you, if Ferguson becomes mayor, I'll never return home. Such a bloody shame!

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By crhayes (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2010 at 23:00:30

@grassroots

I'm sure there is a huge sample bias in that survey, I highly doubt it's reflective of Hamiltonian's as a whole.

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By Fed up (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 23:01:19

What a waste! Who's bright idea was this? Disgusting. Did they at all inform the public about this move? When was that discussed? Maybe it would have been nice if they came to their constituents and asked if they wanted to take part in some form of "RE-USE" program with the marble... WOW!!! I'm floored. Look what they replace it with -- CEMENT! A symbol of a bunker full of bumbling fools.

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 23:08:02

On a positive note, it makes for great erosion control. The downstream flora and fauna will benefit from this. It has been returned to the earth to make a positive contribution. It is what it is. Lets try to be positive for once..Hamiltonians.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 23:11:31

Ok. I'll be positive and assume your comment is well-disguised snark.

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By Fed up (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 23:18:38

I'm just saying that it rubs salt in the wounds of all Hamiltonians who have felt disgusted with the scandalous decisions made by this council - especially, but not limited to, the renovations of City Hall.

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By brodiec (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 01:46:32

What always struck me about this whole debacle is that Lloyd is the alumni of a big construction company that is owned by a CEMENT company. I mean maybe I'm super naive in thinking there isn't a conflict of interest here. Or like this is all above board and contracted to somebody else? Either way it's dicey, partisan and as if he's running the whole show with no input from council and their constituents (us). Also there is word of a Country Style in the lobby! I guess that location in City Mall basement was a smart move...

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2010 at 08:23:10

*Sigh*

Hamilton.

I mean, it's better that it's put to use than just put into landfill, I guess - but it feels like committing an indignity to a corpse. Or like deciding to feed your dead dog to your cat rather than let it go to waste.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 09:25:16

At least we know where to go to get a piece.

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By JM (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 09:44:51

Where exactly is this? ...maybe i can snatch a piece in the middle of the night, since i never managed to grab one when they sat in piles at city hall. would be nice to hold a small piece of history. i was willing to "purchase" a slab back when there was the idea to raise funds for limestone.............

JM

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By Crushed (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 09:53:33

The replacement of marble with concrete versus the alternative - new marble or limestone - is a travesty. And it's a shock to see something that was once so beautiful end up in the situation illustrated.

But to be fair, our shock shouldn't be new as we've known for a long time it was destined for such a use. Once the contracts were awarded the City no longer owned the marble, http://thespec.com/article/537939, and the owner (Greenspoon) could do whatever it wanted.

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By bright side (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 10:02:39

call me naive, but when i read this poster, i thought it was promoting the fact that the marble was reused.

what were the other options to do with this? i am happy its not in a landfill! and that someone has found a new use for something that would probably otherwise just be thrown away in a dumpster.

the problem here was the decisions that were made during the planning of buiding a new building. not what they have chosen to do with the waste of the old one...

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By MarkWhittle (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2010 at 10:07:10

Someone got a sweet deal, I wonder who it is, and who they know? All those chunks of history to construct a drainage ditch. How fitting and apt. RIP.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 10:57:50

i was willing to "purchase" a slab back when there was the idea to raise funds for limestone.............

turns out we didn't even need to raise funds for limestone. The city has an extra $4 million sitting there from this project that could have been used for both limestone AND stainless steel.
Instead it's being saved for a more noble purpose - a kickback.

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By Desmond (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 13:37:42

Don't really get what the hubbub is all about. The marble could not be reused on the building. Be happy another use was found for it because otherwise its just garbage.

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By Crushed (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 13:43:44

I agree with Jason.

Personally, I'm happy to pay the budgeted amount on any project, as long as the budget is affordable and accurate. To offer a 'bonus' to contractors for coming in under budget flies in the face of setting accurate budgets, and getting ones 'money's worth' on the project.

The City Hall reno is one more debacle, in a long list of debacles, from representatives both City Staff and Council, who continue to do a dis-service to Hamilton residents and taxpayers.

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By edb (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 15:13:57

This is the same marble that was used for cladding the First Canadian Place building in Toronto. Remember falling panels from 50 stories above? Warping, deflecting and a poorly designed anchoring system would have lead to the same issues at city hall. I'd say the marble is where it belongs; I only wish the rest of our overpriced eye sore met the same fate.

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By Curious1 (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 16:06:09

Just out of curiosity, what would y'all have prefered to be done with the marble instead?

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By anonymonus (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 16:49:05

yawh, bigger issues on hand in the hammer, Thats the problem with everyone in the city. All everyone does is dwell on the past, Whine and complain.

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By JeffTessier (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 16:51:09

Has anyone figured out who owns the property this is on?

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 17:52:14

It's not dwelling on the past and it's not what we could've or would've done. This is all about the optics of how we do things in this city. Backwards, backwater and plain ugly. The City Hall reno has been bad, bad, bad since the beginning.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2010 at 19:33:38

All everyone does is dwell on the past, Whine and complain.

Live and don't learn, that's us.

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 20:49:08

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 20:58:55

So what do you suggest then Dave Kuruc. If you're not dwelling on the past, give us some suggestions on how we can fix this. I think it's the decision makers that need to change. I'm only one vote though.

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By Enid (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 22:22:35

you know what? the average Hamiltonian doesn't care about the city hall reno. what's more - they don't care that it's concrete instead of marble. you know why? because it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. the concrete looks fine. would marble or limestone look better? yes. do we have money to spend on marble or limestone? no. why in the world are people still whining and complaining about this?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 22:46:54

Is it really 'dwelling on the past'? The marble just turned up, today. The new building isn't even opened yet. It's not like a complaint about some non-event a decade ago.
Besides which, last I checked 'learning from your mistakes' wasn't pejorative. Human development is based entirely on dwelling on the past and using that experience in an iterative decision process. Forget people, all sentient animals do that.
It's like these idiots at the tea party rallies calling people 'professor' as an insult.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 22:59:40

no wonder this city never advances when there actual taxpaying citizens who don't mind looking like small town hicks thanks to our representatives. We get what we we deserve in this town.

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 23:08:36

C'mon JonC, you need to stop dwelling in the present and whining. The future's where it's at baby!

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 23:34:10

It’s done. Get over it. Lets move on to something that is important.

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By HamiltonCitizen (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 00:58:17

According to Google Maps "Book Rd' is rather close to "Ferguson Rd".

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By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 07:55:45

Ah the Spectator, yesterday's news tomorrow:

http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/753608

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By JonC (registered) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 08:10:54

So no corruption, just complete ineptitude

told he could have the stone for free, as long as he trucked it out himself.

Over two days, he transported 32 loads of marble in a 200-tonne dump truck. There's still plenty of marble left over -- Miranda intends to use it for a pond, a waterfall and other landscaping on his property.

The remainder was disposed of by the demolition company, Greenspoon Specialty Contracting. They passed it on to a fill site which likely used it in concrete

Miranda... said he doesn't know why the city didn't put the marble to use, even in its own drainage ditches.

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 08:49:06

Hamilton - City of white marble waterfalls

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 08:54:36

you know what? the average Hamiltonian doesn't care about the city hall reno. what's more - they don't care that it's concrete instead of marble. you know why? because it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. the concrete looks fine.

Grab a picture of city hall before the reno and go down there and compare it with what's there now. I'm no engineer or contractor, but it is EMBARRASSING. Not even close to looking fine.

do we have money to spend on marble or limestone? no.

Yes, we do have the money. The project is $4 million under budget. Limestone AND a stainless steel exterior trim would have cost $3.5 million. We'd still be $500,000 under budget and with a building we can be proud of had the right decision been made.

I wish the councillor in charge would have put the same effort into this building project as he has blocking pink flamingo websites online.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 15, 2010 at 10:16:45

I wish the councillor in charge would have put the same effort into this building project as he has blocking pink flamingo websites online.

That's the problem with using private, for-profit networks like Facebook to undertake public action: notwithstanding the powerful organizing tools, you're ultimately at the mercy of the platform, its owners and their fiduciary interests.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-04-15 09:17:51

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 12:39:49

I love how the Spec acts like they broke the story by asking the guy for a comment. Meanwhile the guy trucked away the stuff last summer and The Spec doesn't know about it until two days after it's on RTH. Nice job Graham.

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By Bedrock Twist (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 14:43:52

Another hole in the story is what strikes me as an incredible lost opportunity, even when it was rubble.

To wit: "The remainder was disposed of by the demolition company, Greenspoon Specialty Contracting. They passed it on to a fill site which likely used it in concrete, said Geoff Hall, a senior project manager at Greenspoon."

Which seems to suggest that it was used to make terrazzo. Maybe the shattered fragments were unsuitable for marble cladding, but even its most busted-down state, it remained "gold-veined Cherokee marble."

Terrazzo, which most people will be familiar with from its use in public school and other institutional flooring over the years, is one of the oldest examples of sustainable building that I can think of -- it's recycling old building materials for use in flooring and countertops. With minimal care, it basically lasts for a lifetime. Case in point: any of the dozens of established-looking shop doorways throughout the city that were laid in mid-century and still look great.

One reason more people don't use terrazzo these days is that it's expensive. The reason for this is both the skilled labour that goes into laying the surface and the material that is mixed with the concrete/cement/resin binder. Terrazzo is often about 3/4 marble aggregate, so it can run you $50-100 a square foot.

And I can't even begin to figure how much terrazzo you could generate using 640 tonnes of free marble.

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By xyz (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 17:05:26


Just in case people want to know the correct name of the marble ,

It NOT CHEROKEE WHITE .it is gold veined GEORGIAN WHITE ......


You make a fuss about it , but you don't even know its real name ... ironic and tragic.

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 17:23:02

That's my property. You should see my polished marble floors!

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By Bedrock Twist (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2010 at 19:06:45

xyz: "It NOT CHEROKEE WHITE .it is gold veined GEORGIAN WHITE ......You make a fuss about it , but you don't even know its real name ... ironic and tragic."

I was quoting verbatim from the second paragraph of today's Spec story. The story at top may well have been quoting verbatim from the second paragraph in a Spec story from late March: http://www.thespec.com/article/537935

These descriptions are backed up by a story in Time Magazine Nov 21, 1960 edition, when the author writes: "When Roscoe ordered city hall's façade built out of Cherokee white marble imported from Georgia, local limestone dealers got the city hall committee to cancel the order."

The distinction is arguably moot. Cherokee White marble is quarried in Georgia, and can accurately be described as Georgian White marble, though the inverse does not necessarily hold true.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 16, 2010 at 00:08:36

Bedrock Twist, a great point about the terrazzo. This thing is one big botch job no matter how you slice it. another classic Hamilton project.
Hopefully the concrete slabs start falling off sooner than later so we can hire that dude with the crowbar to go to town on them and perhaps city council will fix their mistake and spend the couple million bucks on limestone and lead by example when it comes to maintaining a heritage property. I wish we had a Donald Trump in this city. Someone who puts their money where there mouth is and donates to civic projects in order to see them done properly.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 16, 2010 at 00:12:13

Under budget = over quoted = kick back

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By trevorlikesbikes (registered) - website | Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:19:59

Property is on the North East corner of Book and Southcote. Cycled by it couple nights back.

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By Let_The_Downtown_Die (registered) | Posted April 17, 2010 at 23:10:50

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By Let_The_Downtown_Die (registered) | Posted April 17, 2010 at 23:11:22

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted April 18, 2010 at 18:35:32

Your "elite" tax dollars would be less if we had a better downtown, don't comment if you are clueless please.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted April 18, 2010 at 19:58:21

Well, if we must be honest there are more activists downtown, then anywhere else in the city. Maybe the people downtown need a rallying song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOqk_q4NL...

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By Crawfog (anonymous) | Posted April 19, 2010 at 08:58:56

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 19, 2010 at 09:09:58

^Hi Lloyd!

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By Crawfog (anonymous) | Posted April 20, 2010 at 17:25:49

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