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  #1181  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 5:18 AM
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That 5 storey warehouse type building around the Purdy's Wharf area lasted a bit longer than some of the others. What a loss. Downtown would feel a lot more cohesive with even just those 2 blocks tying the Purdy's area in with the older part of downtown.

I think it would be a lost opportunity not to try to reconstruct a little bit of this as part of the Cogswell interchange redevelopment. Maybe do some faithful masonry reconstruction of these buildings with modern construction above, similar to say TD or the Green Lantern development in eventual appearance.
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  #1182  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 11:27 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I think it's a great idea, but haven't seen anything remotely close to that idea in any proposal as yet. I would expect that faithful masonry reproduction would be beyond the budget of most local developers as it would not increase the value of their properties and would thus cut into profit margins.

Here is another view of the area looking north, dated January 1968, from the Halifax Municipal Archives:

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  #1183  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 11:32 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
From the Halifax Municipal Archives, major contrast from March 1968 to September 1969 (according to the dates assigned by the archives):



Found 2 more in-progress photos dated May 27, 1968:



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  #1184  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 11:44 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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And one more from Oct 1968, almost all remaining buildings gone, fill added on the west side of the retaining wall to create the elevated road beds. On the left there is one remaining stone warehouse that was just behind the 5-storey building mentioned above.

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  #1185  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 12:20 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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A further search of the municipal archives reveals this photo, dated October 23, 1967, and shows the 5-storey and other warehouse from a different perspective. The info given for the shot is "1959-1969 Upper Water St., looking north-east from Belle Lane".



I recall posting this photo here in the past, but in a different context.
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  #1186  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 12:24 PM
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Keith P. Keith P. is offline
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There was one cluster of buildings in that group that seem like they would have been a loss, assuming the interiors were in decent condition. The 5-storey building (which on its own is the least interesting of the group to me), the interesting-looking stone building hiding in behind which has contrasting stone corner detail (which makes me wonder if it wasn't disassembled and rebuilt down at what is now Historic Properties), then the arch-top windowed building to its left and the one next to it with the angled roof c/w skylight, which must have been pretty unusual for the era. That one in particular looks as if it had been well-maintained with fresh-looking siding of some sort and a newish-looking shingle job on the roof. Again, it reminds me of one of the reproduction buildings found now at Historic Properties.
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  #1187  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 12:25 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Citizen_Bane View Post
I love seeing these old pics! In the final pic it appears that Upper Water Street must have been two-way traffic leading on to a section of Bedford Row that no longer exists. Also, at the very bottom of the pic we see a wall along George Street that is still there.
Found this other shot from April, 1956:



Source
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  #1188  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2020, 6:37 PM
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It is hard to see in the old aerials I have but I think all of the stone buildings of Historic Properties were renovated in place. The stone building attached to the 5-storey warehouse does not match the shape of any of the buildings that are there today; they would have had to reconstruct an extension which seems odd.

It is true that some of the wooden ones were substantially rebuilt or are modern constructions but some of them look completely modern so that is no surprise.

There are half a dozen or so major warehouse type buildings that were lost around this area. The Cunard wharf and pentagon probably being the next most prominent from what I can tell, and being roughly on par with Morse's Teas or the old stone part of Keith's.
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  #1189  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2020, 5:55 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
There was one cluster of buildings in that group that seem like they would have been a loss, assuming the interiors were in decent condition. The 5-storey building (which on its own is the least interesting of the group to me), the interesting-looking stone building hiding in behind which has contrasting stone corner detail (which makes me wonder if it wasn't disassembled and rebuilt down at what is now Historic Properties), then the arch-top windowed building to its left and the one next to it with the angled roof c/w skylight, which must have been pretty unusual for the era. That one in particular looks as if it had been well-maintained with fresh-looking siding of some sort and a newish-looking shingle job on the roof. Again, it reminds me of one of the reproduction buildings found now at Historic Properties.
Interesting ideas - to me the cluster of buildings in its entirety is quite nice (in form, not condition) with the 5-storey as a cornerstone of sorts.

Regarding the idea of the stone building being disassembled and rebuilt in the current Historic Properties, remember that Historic Properties as it is today wasn't planned in the 1960s, so there would have been no foresight to disassemble these buildings further up on Upper Water Street, and reassemble them in the current Historic Properties area - they were just a bunch of old buildings that were in the way of progress - the Cogswell Exchange for the Harbour Drive project. Thus, they were demolished as quickly and cheaply as possible.

IIRC, the stone buildings that make up part of the current Historic Properites site were also slated for demolition but were saved by a group of citizens (which eventually became the Heritage Trust?) who protested the demolitions and were successful, effectively putting an end to the project.

Regardless, here are some photos from the archives site that show what those buildings looked like in the 1960s, before being restored and turned into Historic Properties.

I don't recall the details of the restorations, but I imagine many/most of the wooden structures were either rebuilt using a combination of original and new materials, or just completely built from the ground up.

It's almost hard to believe this is the area currently occupied by the outdoor patio of the Lower Deck pub:




How it looked after restoration (1980s?):


More pics from the 1950s/60s:






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  #1190  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2020, 5:27 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I found this page regarding the Historic Properties situation:

https://historicnovascotia.ca/items/show/30
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  #1191  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2020, 5:59 PM
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Thank you for another group of evocative images, Mark.

It's interesting to consider what might have been, how many of those structures might have been saved or repurposed to better reflect the city's historic past. How fascinating it would be to step back in time to experience those buildings as they were. (Which is not to say many of them would have been attractive places to live or work. For example, consider the Roy Lohnes barber shop building at the corner of George and Lower Water; the businesses still operating despite the smashed windows and rotting siding above.)

I find it fascinating to ponder the names on the signage and reflect on the human stories they represent, largely lost to history. For example, even the modest parking lot sign in the last image you shared. It declares the place, now occupied roughly by the Law Courts, to be "Bedford Square", not a name I recognize at all.

Consider the Jas. Simmonds Hardware building, the structure at 1855 Upper Water, among the large group of buildings the city voted to expropriate in 1968 to make way for the Cogswell Street interchange. The company was established late in the 19th century by James Simmonds, who served as Dartmouth mayor from 1888-89. It appears to have operated for a time on Water Street (now Alderney Drive) in Dartmouth. I found old company material online that says they were distributors for Ramsay's paints and stains, made by the A. Ramsay and Son company at their factory in Montreal, also now all but forgotten. Did the firm simply fade out of existence after their building was acquired by the taxpayers; were their assets bought out by someone else? I can't say.

And then there is the Tobin's Rakwana Teas building, visible in the intriguing colour photo from 1956. According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, John Tobin was an Irish man who arrived in Halifax in the 1940s and established a general retail and wholesale business. He served a couple of terms in the pre-Confederation NS legislature before apparently shooting himself to death in 1869. But his firm carried on as prominent tea merchants, apparently until at least the late 50s. You can find images of their commemorative royal coronation tea tins online. I'm not sure of the company's fate but I did find a couple of obituaries for former Tobin employees that suggested they later moved to Morse's tea company, perhaps suggesting Morse absorbed Tobin at some point. Lost Cod Clothing company markets Tobin's Tea branded t-shirts. Rakwana, by the way, is a tea growing region of the former Ceylon.



Also intriguing to me is the Levine Bros. Clothing building (Rubbers Boots & Shoes). This company was apparently around for several decades; I located an entry in the list of investigations of the Halifax Police Department for 1932-33 that included the report: "Levine Bros. Clothing store Ferry Wharf. Reports of clothes stolen from hanger outside store. Brown with light pencil stripe, size 37." But I could find nothing else about this firm: who were the Levines; when did they open the business; where did they go after redevelopment took their building?

The buildings are interesting, but what preoccupies me is the human stories behind them, the people who occupied and visited those structures and gave them life. Stories that, for the most part, are lost to us, for now.
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  #1192  
Old Posted Oct 10, 2020, 3:36 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I really appreciate your thoughtful reply and research. The information you were able to dig up is all new to me and quite fascinating.

Whenever I am looking through old photos to try to understand Halifax's path to the current day, it occurs to me that Halifax has been many things to many generations of people. When I think of the places that I like to go and the physical structures that I like to see when I'm strolling through the downtown, I also think about the people who walked the very same streets 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, and how they may have experienced 'their' Halifax.

Businesses start, flourish, and then die out. Each one of them being a very important part of peoples' lives for a period of time - a livelihood, a place to purchase goods or services, a place to visit and enjoy, etc. Then they are gone, sometimes the only evidence remaining is a sign in an old photograph - a hint of a much larger story that we will probably never know.
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  #1193  
Old Posted Oct 11, 2020, 4:33 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by ns_kid View Post
Thank you for another group of evocative images, Mark.

It's interesting to consider what might have been, how many of those structures might have been saved or repurposed to better reflect the city's historic past. How fascinating it would be to step back in time to experience those buildings as they were. (Which is not to say many of them would have been attractive places to live or work. For example, consider the Roy Lohnes barber shop building at the corner of George and Lower Water; the businesses still operating despite the smashed windows and rotting siding above.)
That's an interesting observation. When looking further at that particular photo set on the Halifax Public Archives, it appears that these photos were taken shortly after a fire, but then a later photo shows the top two storeys over those shops having been removed, and a ghost of a roof on the taller building to the right, indicating that these shops may have originally been one storey with the two added on later, or the ghost roof shadow may have belonged to a completely different building. It's interesting to me that the entire structures were not torn down, and I wonder what became of the bottom floor shops after this (before they were all leveled for the law courts, that is).







When I look at these photos, it makes me wish that there had been the equivalent of Google streetview back in the day, as finding photos of any building in any particular time period is mostly a matter of luck - whether a photo was taken, and whether it is available in digital form on the internet...

Last edited by OldDartmouthMark; Oct 11, 2020 at 4:57 PM.
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