Tag Archives: Building

A Special Event: Hamilton Flea at Brown’s Tire – November 14th

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Hamilton Flea is back and in a new location. Last time was Treble Hall and this time around it’s the old Brown’s Tire Building.

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The old Brown’s Tire is located at the corner of Wellington and King William in a turn-of-the-century, three-storey brick building. Covered with event signage by The Story Girl and Circa Projects, the building is full of nostalgic features that are fitting for a pop-up flea.

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The exterior of the building, facing Wellington, has three floor-to-ceiling windows at ground level, decorative keystones above the upper storey windows, and an intact cornice complete with corbels. The storefront fascia is exposed, waiting for tenants to occupy the space and erect new signage.

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Inside it is magic. Original hardwood floors, layers of peeling paint over exposed brick, white classical columns, and large beams highlight the first floor. The stairs leading to the second floor are of an early modern design, with a mild steel trapezoidal balustrade and swirling banister.

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As you reach the second floor you see more of the same: exposed brick, wood floors, a row of columns, a black and white beam, and exposed joists. Numerous windows illuminate the room in a glowing harmony, shining poetic beams of light on a space yearning for more.

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The third floor is the real deal. A must see space. The ceilings are high, with subtle vaulting. All the joists, strapping, and cross bridging is open. Look through it all and you’ll see a peaked ceiling high above. There are levels to this floor, through a chorus of wall studs, worthy of investigating. The potential for the future of its space is palpable.

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Much has been found during restoration. Old signs, doors, unique solid blocking, receipts, and other little elements have appeared, showing the rich history of this old commercial building. Hamilton Flea is the newest notch on the building’s old leather belt.

The notches are many. Some of the business that have occupied the building include:

  • Farr and McManus Furniture Finishes (1925)
  • Bamford Tire Service
  • Classic Athletic Club
  • Wellington Tire Service
  • Brown’s Tire (1942)
  • HCA Vacuum

Hamilton Flea, presented by Girl on the Wing and The Academy of All Things Awesome, is an event worth applauding. Not only does it bring together local and regional vendors, it also showcases unique historical buildings looking for investment and love. Shortly after they hosted the flea at Treble Hall, the building was sold to developers wanting to do more with the vacant heritage space. Hopefully the owners of the Brown’s Tire Building find the tenants they are searching for and then some. Saturday November 14th can’t come fast enough.

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Architectural Spotlight: The Federal Life Assurance Company Building

IMG_0146 Federal Life Assurance Company Building
Finley and Spence 40
James Street South
Completed: 1906

The Federal Life Assurance Company building sits amongst some of the Hamilton’s most cherished buildings, yet it’s history has been overlooked. Completed in 1906 and designed by Montreal-based architects Samuel A. Finley and David J. Spence of Finley and Spence, this Beaux-Arts building is composed of neo-classical elements and designed in the Commercial Style. A style made popular by Louis Sullivan and the Chicago School of Architecture.

At 9-storeys the Federal Assurance Company building is just shy of being Hamilton’s first steel framed skyscraper (one storey short of the 10-storey minimum). It was constructed with steel and reinforced concrete, supporting the glazed terracotta façade. The commercial style was breakthrough for the time. Its massing and height were an evolution from its heavier wood and stone predecessors. A popular theory about the commercial style is the building symbolizes a classical column, divided in three sections. IMG_0155 The first section, the base of the building, is less decorative. Composed of reinforced concrete, with tall windows, spandrels, and detailed window reveals, but little else. Middle White glazed terracotta and double-hung windows make up the middle of the building, or the shaft of the column. The vertical gaps between every second window emphasize the buildings height and draw the eyes up. Before the top section of the metaphorical column there are ornamental crests surrounded by wreaths and windows with a continuous band of decorative lintels. IMG_0157 The top two-stories, or the capital, are separated by a horizontal band of foliage and dentils. More ornamental foliage is added to attract the eye, while the top floor is complimented with porthole windows surrounded by intricate wreaths. On the southern façade the portholes are just reliefs with no glass or ornament, but still add to the decorative effect and keep with the buildings characteristics.

Photo Courtesy: Toronto Public Library

Photo Courtesy: Toronto Public Library

The roof was originally capped with a large projecting cornice, but it has since been removed, leaving the top of the building naked. IMG_0142 Other changes have been made to the building, as well. Some windows have been added and removed from the west side of the building. There is also a two-story post-modern parking garage added to the back of the building from the early 1990s. The addition features simple brickwork, columns, green corrugated steel, tinted glass windows, and more porthole reliefs. Originally built for the Federal Life Assurance Company, the building houses both commercial and residential tenants.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – September 6th

PHOTO OF THE DAY - September 6th

Landed Banking and Loan Company Building – 47 James St. S, Hamilton

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September 6, 2013 · 5:00 pm