The buildings were constructed between 1840 and 1876 are regarded as 'integral components to the King Street East streetscape and the character of the Gore area'.
By Ryan McGreal
Published December 28, 2012
Hamilton photographer Kyle McKeown contacted the City of Hamilton to ask for more information on the history of the buildings at 18-28 King Street East, which are currently slated for demolition.
18-28 King street East (RTH file photo)
Michelle Sergi, community planning and design manager in the City's planning department, replied with this information about the buildings:
18-22 King Street East
18-22 King Street East are two three-storey stone buildings built circa 1840 and designed by the architect William Thomas. Early occupants were Archibald and Thomas C. Kerr, who established their successful wholesale dry goods business there as early as 1848.
Architect William Thomas was considered a key figure in Canadian architecture, designing important buildings throughout Ontario. The buildings are a representative example of Renaissance Revival architecture dating to the pre-Confederation period.
The buildings retain their original architectural features on the upper levels of their front façades and are among very few pre-Confederation stone commercial buildings remaining in Hamilton.
24 King Street East
24 King Street East is a four-storey building constructed in 1875-6 for James A. Skinner. Skinner was a crockery merchant who opened his "China Palace" at another location around 1850 and the subject building was built as an expansion.
James A. Skinner and Co. was recognized as the largest importer of crockery, glassware, etc. and largest shippers to Manitoba, British Columbia and the Northwest. Later, Minden's Ladies Wear operated in this location between 1924 and 1951.
The building was originally designed and constructed in the Victorian Style of architecture. Several alterations have been undertaken to the building and only the brick façade (painted), three window openings on the fourth level and the cornice and brackets remain.
28 King Street East
28 King Street East is a four-storey building constructed in 1874 for William H. Glassco & Sons to house their furrier business. The building housed a large cold storage vault that was considered to be advanced at time.
G.F. Glassco & Co. operated in this location until 1931 and a succession of other furrier businesses subsequently operated out of the building.
The building's composition, design and materials provide a representative example of Victorian architecture. At the time of its construction, the building was less elaborate than the buildings on either side; however, the building has retained most of its original architectural features on the upper levels of its front façade.
All four buildings face Gore Park and are integral components to the King Street East streetscape and the character of the Gore area.
Wilson-Blanchard, which owns the buildings, plans to demolish them in 2013. In October, the developers floated a proposal to construct a new condo development in the block bounded by James, King, Hughson and Main that would include a grocery store and multi-level parking garage fronting on to King Street.
The building at 30 King Street East was demolished in May 2011 and the site has sat empty since that time, despite the developer's proposal at the time to turn it into a patio for an adjacent coffee shop.
Missing tooth at 30 King East (RTH file photo)
The Gore Park Master Plan envisions a pedestrian plaza on the south leg of King Street, which would provide ample surface area for patios. A pilot project this past summer was a great success at drawing people to enjoy their lunches in the park.
A grocery store and multi-level parking lot would destroy the pedestrian character of Gore Park, the centre of the downtown core, and effectively render the master plan moot.
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