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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 3:14 PM
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matt602 matt602 is online now
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Abandoned Hamilton

I've posted some tidbits of my "urban exploration" shots on here, and generally the reception has been good so I figured I'd put together a collection of shots around the Hammer and post up for you guys. Most of this stuff will be familiar buildings to you, others may not be so. In most cases I bet you'll be amazed that this stuff was sitting around. I have been many times.

Please do ask any questions you'd like or request to see a certain building. There's a lot of stuff that I didn't post here that I also have, so if you ask for it I've probably got it. I'm gonna follow the format of one location per post, to keep it organized.

We'll start with a popular topic in the past week: The Royal Connaught Hotel.













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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 3:18 PM
raisethehammer raisethehammer is offline
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wow...awesome!
I'm surprised at the good condition of all the decorative mouldings in the lobby area.
I really hope Stinson can restore this thing as proposed. would be so great for the city.
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  #3  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 3:19 PM
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Next up, the Firestone Tire factory North of Burlington St., on the same site as the City of Hamilton's recycling/central compost centre. A sprawling facility that I've spent a lot of time in and have accumulated a lot of photographs in. Some parts date back to the 1920's/30's.











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  #4  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 4:29 PM
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My dad used to work at Firestone. That was his first real full time job. I remember when he got laid off I was about 6 and we had to sell our house.

That was during Reagan's administration that had a policy where foreign factories must close first before American factories. The Firestone plant in Hamilton generated the most profit as it was the most efficient plant in North America.
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  #5  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 6:59 PM
go_leafs_go02 go_leafs_go02 is offline
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Neat. I'd love to go exploring through abandoned places like that. Even though I hate its appearance on cities and neighbourhoods, it fascinates me. Some gems out towards Buffalo that I know of, including a massive former central railway station.

How long has the tire place been abandonned. The Connaught doesn't look too bad, I'd give that place 10 years of being empty.
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  #6  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 7:05 PM
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Firestone closed a good 15 years ago.
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 7:15 PM
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Are the pillars in the Connaught's lobby naturally dark blue, or is that perhaps some sort of coating or covering upon them?

I only ask because I have seen old postcards which showed the pillars in a cream/pink marble. Obviously, however, coloured postcards of that era were not the most faithful depictions and often took serious liberties with their subject matter.

As for instance, these postcards from hamiltonpostcards.com:



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  #8  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 8:38 PM
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Definitely not naturally blue RePinion--in fact, the pillars are plaster. During the most recent "renovation" of the lobby (early 1990s?) they had someone come in and paint the fake marble finish--somewhere on an old VHS tape I have the news report from CHCH talking about it and showing the painters at work.
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  #9  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 8:41 PM
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That looks very much like a faux marble paint job to me. I wouldn't be surprised if the columns are wood and have always been painted.
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  #10  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 8:42 PM
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Oops. Fastcars beat me to it.
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  #11  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 9:33 PM
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And Firestone--wow--there was a company that had a rich history in the city--from it's Canadian head office to the big, jazzy neon sign that used to grace Main and Dundurn. I too remember when the plant closed--the victim of various factors--namely the fact that the plant built only bias-ply tires and that the company, which was saddled with debt, was being prepped for sale to Japanese rival Bridgestone.

There are whole swaths of brownfields on the bayfront which will someday have to be dealt with in some capacity. International Harvester/Case, Firestone, Dofasco, Stelco, P&G--all have left huge swatches of land vacant, along with Westinghouse, DomGlass, etc--when you think back over the past 20 years, this city has already gone through a quantum economic shift.
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  #12  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go_leafs_go02 View Post
The Connaught doesn't look too bad, I'd give that place 10 years of being empty.
It's only been empty for a few years! It was operating as Howard Johnson till around 2004 I think.
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Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 10:08 PM
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Oh yeah, awesome pictures Matt, I look forward to more.
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  #14  
Old Posted Mar 1, 2008, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastcarsfreedom View Post
Definitely not naturally blue RePinion--in fact, the pillars are plaster. During the most recent "renovation" of the lobby (early 1990s?) they had someone come in and paint the fake marble finish--somewhere on an old VHS tape I have the news report from CHCH talking about it and showing the painters at work.
Right. Now that I think about it I think I have heard that they were just painted pillars.

I wonder what'll be done with them when the lobby's renovated ... maybe some proper marble ...
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  #15  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2008, 12:00 AM
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Wow, awesome shots, Matt!
I can't believe what a couple of winters can do to a building. And ya, I think the Connaught has only been empty for 4 years. I'm sure this winter has been the toughest on the place.
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  #16  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2008, 5:51 AM
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Connaught closed doors in late 2004. I remember the very day it happened. Within a week myself and a friend snuck in as they were cleaning the place out. The grand ballroom was full up to the ceiling with HUNDREDS of mattresses. They were grouping everything in the building together for an auction that took place weeks later. A lot of very historic stuff was sold there, everything went. We ended up getting caught in the basement but we were able to sample the beautiful lobby, the crappy pool and the 2nd floor hallway. I wish my friend hadn't insisted on going to the basement, I would have loved to explore the upper floors. I never got to see them. It is all so very different now. Cold and empty.

Anyway I'll have more pictures tomorrow, some better quality ones from Firestone (took a trip today with the new camera) and a new location. I will also be doing Lister Block down the road, but I'm waiting until I can get back in there with my camera. LIUNA has actually been doing a good job keeping the place sealed up, so I haven't been in for a long time.
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  #17  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2008, 6:15 AM
go_leafs_go02 go_leafs_go02 is offline
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so just over three years has done that much damage in there. wow, I'm quite surprised by that. But I guess that considering it's asbestos free, actually getting it restored into useable shape is doable.

Do you have a flickr account or a photo album that I can view, I have a feeling you have many many more pictures of these locations, and I would love to see them!
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  #18  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2008, 6:40 AM
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Most of the damage to Connaught has happened within the last year, to be honest. This winter's harsh temperatures wreaked havoc.

I dump most of my photos here:

http://sugarton.deviantart.com

(same link as in my signature)
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  #19  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2008, 7:13 AM
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matt602--the upper floors--at least those I was familiar with were fairly typical of a hotel. The Connaught underwent a massive renovation in the 70s which reduced the room count considerably--old hotels had small rooms--so most of the Connaught's rooms were spacious and the majority had two windows as a result. Another reasonably major reno happened in the mid 1980s when the Sheraton was due to open--everything after that was mostly cosmetic--so decor-wise it looked pretty much like a 1980s business-oriented hotel. In December 1999 I attended a reception for my grandmother which was in one of the larger suites in the hotel--it was the full-width of the newer building overlooking John Street and the Sopinka Courthouse--it was huge--had two separate entrances to the hallway--the decor was a little dated but it was in reasonable condition (and the view was great)--had a bedroom with a king bed--a sitting area and a dining room. I recall the room had wainscotting--and I as I was browsing through some photos of the gutted hotel floors I actually spotted some of that some wainscotting still on an exterior wall. Attended my high school prom in the big ballroom on the second floor--had our photos taken with our backs to the glass railing overlooking the lobby--I'll have to dig a few of those photos out for y'all. Been to the ballroom many times through the 80s also for family events and for the old Tiger Cat QB club meetings and pep rallies when they were there--that room never changed as far as I recall--was always brown and always had those vertically stacked light fixtures on the walls.

The main restaurant space--Vinton's Bistro & Grill in the 80s and then a Fran's toward the end was a great space also--has an incredible floor as far as I recall.

As for the pool--it was actually really nice when it was built (and the slide was a novelty)--but the money spent to build and install it was the last money ever spent on it--by then the hotel was in it's period of changing ownership every few years--by then the die was cast as far as the hotel's ultimate fate.
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  #20  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2008, 8:47 AM
IronWarrior IronWarrior is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastcarsfreedom View Post
matt602--the upper floors--at least those I was familiar with were fairly typical of a hotel. The Connaught underwent a massive renovation in the 70s which reduced the room count considerably--old hotels had small rooms--so most of the Connaught's rooms were spacious and the majority had two windows as a result. Another reasonably major reno happened in the mid 1980s when the Sheraton was due to open--everything after that was mostly cosmetic--so decor-wise it looked pretty much like a 1980s business-oriented hotel. In December 1999 I attended a reception for my grandmother which was in one of the larger suites in the hotel--it was the full-width of the newer building overlooking John Street and the Sopinka Courthouse--it was huge--had two separate entrances to the hallway--the decor was a little dated but it was in reasonable condition (and the view was great)--had a bedroom with a king bed--a sitting area and a dining room. I recall the room had wainscotting--and I as I was browsing through some photos of the gutted hotel floors I actually spotted some of that some wainscotting still on an exterior wall. Attended my high school prom in the big ballroom on the second floor--had our photos taken with our backs to the glass railing overlooking the lobby--I'll have to dig a few of those photos out for y'all. Been to the ballroom many times through the 80s also for family events and for the old Tiger Cat QB club meetings and pep rallies when they were there--that room never changed as far as I recall--was always brown and always had those vertically stacked light fixtures on the walls.

The main restaurant space--Vinton's Bistro & Grill in the 80s and then a Fran's toward the end was a great space also--has an incredible floor as far as I recall.

As for the pool--it was actually really nice when it was built (and the slide was a novelty)--but the money spent to build and install it was the last money ever spent on it--by then the hotel was in it's period of changing ownership every few years--by then the die was cast as far as the hotel's ultimate fate.

I used to love 'Frans' restaurant! where else could you go to get a great meal at 2:00am after a night of clubbing!
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