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flar

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Old stone buildings of central Hamilton

When thinking of stone towns in Ontario, the first that come to mind are Guelph, Kingston, or St. Mary's. Hamilton might have been
among them if it hadn't experienced explosive growth in the latter part of the nineteenth century. In her book "A Heritage of Stone",
Nina Perkins Chapple writes: "the picturesque stone town of the 1850s soon was over-trumped by the robust, High Victorian city of
the 1890s, which, in turn, was swallowed up by the expanded, modernized city of the twentieth century...Hamilton would appear at
first glance to have lost its 1850s stone heritage; closer inspection reveals a remarkable resource which, although reduced and
scattered, includes some of the most exceptional stone buildings ever built in southwestern Ontario."

In this tour, I search for the remains of this lost stone heritage. All of these buildings are located in central Hamilton, sometimes hidden
among highrise apartment buildings or in Victorian neighbourhoods.



Burlington Terrace, c. 1850s
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Slainte Irish Pub, Corktown
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Sandyford Place, 1858. The finest stone rowhouse in Canada west of Montreal and one of only a few surviving rowhouses built for the wealthy.
It was nearly demolished for an apartment building
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Whitehern, a classical revival mansion built c. 1850 and home to three generations of the McQuesten family
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Inside Whitehern
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A stone row on James Street South. Stone rows like this once lined many Hamilton streets
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Commercial buildings near Gore Park
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Christ's Church Cathedral, 1835, cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara.
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Inside Christ's Church:
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Bay Street South Terrace, 1857
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Park and Herkimer, c. 1860
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MacNab Street Presbyterian Church, c. 1850s
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Manse, c. 1860
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James Street Baptist Church, 1878-82
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This is Amisfield, once a stately castle on James Street South
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Photo from Hamilton Public Library Special Collections hosted at http://www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?id=516.

Today, Amisfield is completely surrounded:
"marred, obliterated and degraded, Rastrick's masterpiece stands in ignominy and shame."
from Victorian Architecture in Hamilton (1967) by Alexander Gordon McKay

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Fearman House, 1863
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Try saying "Pheasant Plucker" three times fast. This building is lonely today but at one time was surrounded by other stone buildings
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Commercial on John Street South
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Roach House, 1854, oringinally the home of George Roach, mayor and director of the Bank of Hamilton
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Hess Village
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Bishophurst, 1877, currently the home of CHCH Television
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This building is being renovated into a luxury restaurant and bar with rooftop patio
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St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, 1854-7, featuring 180 foot stone spire
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Originally the Sun Life Assurance Building, 1899, later the upper floors were added and it became the Federal Building
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Commercial warehouse, c. 1856. This building houses Coppley, Noyes and Randall, men's suit manufacturers
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The Inglewood, c. 1850
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Thomas Building, c. 1850s, slated for demolition. I believe the aluminum to the left covers the rest of the stone facade
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Duke Street semi-detached house, c. 1840s
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Ballahinich, 1853
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Rock Castle, c. 1848
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Hereford House, 1853
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Somehow this lone house survives in a sea of commie blocks
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Church of the Ascension, 1850
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Central Public School, 1853, first large graded public school in British North America
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The Stable houses at Dundurn Castle
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Custom House, 1858, one of Canada's oldest surviving public buildings
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migtree

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I've heard from a lifelong Hamilton resident that the Custom House is supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in Canada.

Supposedly the ghost of a young woman who was raped and killed there around the turn of the century has been seen many times, often in some very frightening and aggressive accounts.
 

LowPolygon

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thank you so much for that very comprehensive collection! i don't know Hamilton well at all so i found your shots to be extremely interesting.

that image of Amisfield is truly heartbreaking though....
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i can't believe the city would allow a shit hole development like that to obliterate such a lovely important building.

i suppose the Hunters Green Aluminum Siding is their concession to history? how kind.
 

Mustapha

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Interesting that about Amisfield. I wonder if those new buildings merely abut Amisfield or if the new construction has knocked down the older buildings outer walls. This calls for an 'urban exploration'.:)
 

flar

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I snuck around a little bit. Amisfield seems to be divided up into apartments. Overall it's quite rundown but it's interesting to look in the windows as there are still some nice details inside. The buildings in front don't actually touch Amisfiled, they are contoured around them with a small clearance. Some of the turrets and other adornments have been removed:
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side:
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back:
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I also found out from someone on SSP that the building in the picture below was built using stone from the wall that once surrounded the Amisfield property. This building is attached to Amisfield.
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Here's a an article about Amisfield's architect, Frederick James Rastrick, who designed several of the buildings shown in this tour:
http://www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?id=516
 

adma

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Another thing about Amisfield: if you notice, the quote re its degradation comes from 1967. The modern complex in the photo, though, evidently dates from late 70s/early-mid 80s--so it's not to blame per se...
 

adma

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Yeah, that's my point. Though I take back the "not to blame per se" part, since the present complex blocks off Amisfield more emphatically (permanently?) than that BA station ever did. Ah well, that's what private ownership and lack of civic vision gets ya.

(And oh, irony, had the BA survived in that form today, *it* might be embraced as heritage...)
 

ganjavih

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How did Hamilton get all those stone buildings that are more typical of eastern Ontario and Quebec?
 

flar

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For the most part the stone buildings were constructed by Scottish stonemasons, just like in Fergus and Galt. There was probably a lot of exposed and easily obtainable stone in Hamilton from the escarpment. Many of these buildings are sandstone, as compared to the limestone in Guelph and Fergus and the granite in Galt.

There is actually a lot of stone construction in the Hamilton area. I've noticed many more stone houses in central Hamilton since this tour. There are several stone buildings on Hamilton Mountain. Dundas has dozens of stone houses and buildings, as does Greensville, Waterdown and the rest of Flamborough. And as we know, stone was historically the building material of choice in the village of Ancaster.
 

Long Island Mike

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Hamilton: A GREAT Stone construction heritage!

Flar: Again you showed me another neat thing about Hamilton: The great architecture that was built using stone and brick.
In pic #3 that Sandyford Place row is gorgeous! - and to think that it was almost torn down!!
Those row houses in pic #22 look neat with their bay windows out front.
The entire pic thread was quite interesting! LI MIKE
 

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