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  #1421  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2022, 2:27 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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The Ocean leaving Halifax in 1955.


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Edit: Unfortunately it appears that a number of photos have dropped from the site.

There is a note on their site:
Quote:
Please note:
We are in the process of renewing the background architecture of the Ingenium Digital Archives.
Contact biblio-archives@IngeniumCanada.org if you cannot see the images you are seeking.
So maybe the images will return soon...

Last edited by OldDartmouthMark; Apr 1, 2023 at 1:59 PM.
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  #1422  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 11:23 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Near the SW corner of Blowers and Barrington from 1987.



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  #1423  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 11:38 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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NW corner of Barrington and Blowers, 1987. Interestingly, you can see the pre-fire NFB building in this photo, zoomed in below. It had been left as a burned-out facade for so long, I had forgotten how nice it looked before the fire.





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  #1424  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 11:50 AM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Corner of Barrington and Prince, 1987. I don't recall the Continental Bank signage, or the A&W restaurant/canopy further south, but there they are...



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  #1425  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 12:05 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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The Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters of Maritime Air command on the corner of South and Barrington, 1987. It has since been replaced by an unremarkable residential building. There is no signage visible to indicate its use at the time.

I noticed stone pillars on the South Street side, indicating to me that this must have been its main entrance, not Barrington (surprisingly, to me).





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Last edited by OldDartmouthMark; Mar 22, 2023 at 3:03 PM. Reason: Correction
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  #1426  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
Old Royal Navy building on the corner of South and Barrington, 1987. It has since been replaced by an unremarkable residential building. There is no signage visible to indicate its use at the time.

I noticed stone pillars on the South Street side, indicating to me that this must have been its main entrance, not Barrington (surprisingly, to me).





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Hi Mark, small correction on the owner of the building. The Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters of Maritime Air command. My Dad spent part of his career in the seventies in that building.
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  #1427  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 3:04 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Hi Mark, small correction on the owner of the building. The Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters of Maritime Air command. My Dad spent part of his career in the seventies in that building.
Thank you. I edited the text of my post above to reflect the correction.
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  #1428  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 7:40 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
Corner of Barrington and Prince, 1987. I don't recall the Continental Bank signage, or the A&W restaurant/canopy further south, but there they are...
I've always thought that building, which I believe is known as the St. Paul building (1897), is a landmark and I'm glad it's been preserved. I too couldn't remember the Continental Bank signage, though I wasn't living in Halifax in the late 80s. I do, however, remember the building housing HSBC Bank and displaying that signage, before HSBC moved a few blocks away to 1801 Hollis. Wikipedia confirms that what was left of the old Continental Bank of Canada, by then owned by Lloyd's, was sold to HSBC (formerly HongKong Bank) in 1990.

I have no idea when Continental Bank moved into the St. Paul or what was there before. But this NS Archives photo dated 1900 shows New York Life as the storefront tenant so perhaps it was historically home to financial institutions. Note the unique clock tower, which was lost somewhere along the way.


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  #1429  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 8:21 PM
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Great finds! Thanks for posting.

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Originally Posted by ns_kid View Post
I've always thought that building, which I believe is known as the St. Paul building (1897), is a landmark and I'm glad it's been preserved.
It's a building I think of when people say Halifax doesn't have nice historic buildings or they weren't preserved because they're not as worthwhile as in other obviously historic cities. It's a good example because what's there now is great and yet the restoration work is just so-so up around the cornice (leaving aside the clock) and it is in an official heritage district. My impression is that if the will were there then it would be completely practical to take this building from an A to an A+, and this probably would have happened in a lot of other towns (such as Portland ME; no need to go to Paris).

Halifax has a lot of buildings like this and I think the stripping down of these buildings makes the streetscapes less impressive and historic-seeming than they could be. The Tramway or Pacific Building are some other examples.
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  #1430  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 10:06 PM
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I recall both the Continental Bank signage and the A&W up the street. If this photo is indeed 1987 that signage wouldn't be there much longer. Continental was late in its life when it arrived on Barrington St and had a bumpy history as a bricks-and-mortar retail bank.

Regarding the building, J W Doull books were in that space later for many years until relocating to Dartmouth. The rather checkered history of Barrington St as a retail destination in the'70s and later would mean that rents were comparatively low, which in turn means that renovations, maintenance and certainly restorations were minimal.
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  #1431  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2023, 10:40 PM
Saul Goode Saul Goode is offline
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Hi Mark, small correction on the owner of the building. The Royal Canadian Air Force Headquarters of Maritime Air command.
And a little further detail: it began its air force occupancy as the HQ for Eastern Air Command during WWII. That command of the RCAF was responsible for home defence for all of the Maritimes and Quebec (plus Newfoundland, which at that time was of course not yet Canada), and was the command and control center for 15-20 squadrons of ASW aircraft (B-24s, Cansos, Hudsons) and fighters (Hurricanes) based throughout the region, with the highest concentration at RCAF Dartmouth (later to be known as Shearwater).

(A very close family member worked at a high level in that office throughout WWII and I heard lots of interesting stories about it when I was a kid).
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  #1432  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2023, 3:21 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by ns_kid View Post
I've always thought that building, which I believe is known as the St. Paul building (1897), is a landmark and I'm glad it's been preserved. I too couldn't remember the Continental Bank signage, though I wasn't living in Halifax in the late 80s. I do, however, remember the building housing HSBC Bank and displaying that signage, before HSBC moved a few blocks away to 1801 Hollis. Wikipedia confirms that what was left of the old Continental Bank of Canada, by then owned by Lloyd's, was sold to HSBC (formerly HongKong Bank) in 1990.

I have no idea when Continental Bank moved into the St. Paul or what was there before. But this NS Archives photo dated 1900 shows New York Life as the storefront tenant so perhaps it was historically home to financial institutions. Note the unique clock tower, which was lost somewhere along the way.


Source: NSARM
I too have always admired this building, and am glad that it survived over the years. I can't help think that if it had been located north of Duke Street, it probably would have ended up as a pile of rubble in the 1960s (during 'slum clearance' and Cogswell/Scotia Square construction).

I agree with someone123 that it would be nice to see some of the original elements restored, especially the cornice and the clock tower and other ornamentation. I seem to recall posting a photo from the 1950s era showing that these details had already been stripped from the building, so one would have to assume that there was some structural/safety issue (like large pieces of stone falling to the sidewalk below) for the details to have been removed, vs some attempt at 'modernization', etc. When considering this, I have to refer to the very stately customs house on the corner of George and Lower Water that likewise had issues with stone falling off, and was demolished (to the detriment of the downtown streetscape, IMHO) around 1960.

Great photo... one of my favourites on Barrington actually.
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  #1433  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2023, 4:59 PM
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When considering this, I have to refer to the very stately customs house on the corner of George and Lower Water that likewise had issues with stone falling off, and was demolished (to the detriment of the downtown streetscape, IMHO) around 1960.
I wonder if this was due to a special problem with these buildings or just poor maintenance or a desire to replace mostly smaller buildings in a growing city, with the maintenance providing an argument for demolition. It is true that there used to be more fine masonry decorative elements around the rooflines of Victorian buildings that probably deteriorated and fell off faster than the other stuff. By the 1950's that look was outdated, those buildings were often perceived as "old" rather than historic, and if those elements were a headache it made sense that they wouldn't be restored. It is the same as how a lot of 60's concrete buildings get redone with glass today.

Other cities have similar buildings. If we say that these Halifax buildings were unsustainably high maintenance it's hard to see how something like the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City is sustainable or how that city works at all (it's not 2x as big but it must have 10x the stock of old masonry details to maintain). Some people blame climate but Quebec City is not exactly mild.
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  #1434  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2023, 9:06 PM
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I wonder if this was due to a special problem with these buildings or just poor maintenance or a desire to replace mostly smaller buildings in a growing city, with the maintenance providing an argument for demolition. It is true that there used to be more fine masonry decorative elements around the rooflines of Victorian buildings that probably deteriorated and fell off faster than the other stuff. By the 1950's that look was outdated, those buildings were often perceived as "old" rather than historic, and if those elements were a headache it made sense that they wouldn't be restored. It is the same as how a lot of 60's concrete buildings get redone with glass today.

Other cities have similar buildings. If we say that these Halifax buildings were unsustainably high maintenance it's hard to see how something like the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City is sustainable or how that city works at all (it's not 2x as big but it must have 10x the stock of old masonry details to maintain). Some people blame climate but Quebec City is not exactly mild.
Quebec City gets four seasons. Halifax tends to get Sprinter at this time of year and the freeze thaw cycle is why it took the Brits 28 Years for the present Citadel to be built. I did a paper in University studying the building of Wellington Barracks at Stadacona. The making of the bricks from local clay in our climate and the right Mortor mix was very much an experimental process for the British Royal Engineers and a unique challenge unknown anywhere else in the British Empire.
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  #1435  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2023, 9:19 PM
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Is it really unique compared to Portland ME, Saint John NB, or St. John's NL? All places that do a better job preserving their old masonry buildings. I understand the climate is more severe than in the UK.
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  #1436  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2023, 12:11 PM
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Other cities have similar buildings. If we say that these Halifax buildings were unsustainably high maintenance it's hard to see how something like the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City is sustainable or how that city works at all (it's not 2x as big but it must have 10x the stock of old masonry details to maintain). Some people blame climate but Quebec City is not exactly mild.
The Chateau Frontenac is/was for decades the finest hotel in the provincial capital of Quebec and for most of its life was owned by CP Rail. As such a hotel it required ongoing repairs, maintenance and updates to provide a guest experience that would ensure it was able to attract guests and be profitable. In short, lots of money was spent on it all through its life, unlike office buildings in a dying DT Halifax during the latter half of the 20th century. It has nothing to do with construction techniques or materials or climates, but is just a matter of money or lack thereof.
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  #1437  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2023, 1:08 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
I wonder if this was due to a special problem with these buildings or just poor maintenance or a desire to replace mostly smaller buildings in a growing city, with the maintenance providing an argument for demolition. It is true that there used to be more fine masonry decorative elements around the rooflines of Victorian buildings that probably deteriorated and fell off faster than the other stuff. By the 1950's that look was outdated, those buildings were often perceived as "old" rather than historic, and if those elements were a headache it made sense that they wouldn't be restored. It is the same as how a lot of 60's concrete buildings get redone with glass today.

Other cities have similar buildings. If we say that these Halifax buildings were unsustainably high maintenance it's hard to see how something like the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City is sustainable or how that city works at all (it's not 2x as big but it must have 10x the stock of old masonry details to maintain). Some people blame climate but Quebec City is not exactly mild.
I think it's difficult to generalize, since each building is a unique case. I also think assuming that there's a "special problem" (compared to other places) with these buildings would be somewhat of a stretch if we are looking at this in terms of construction methods, materials, etc. Additionally, I don't think you could consider the climate as being unique, though as has been mentioned, our winter climate does include a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, that I imagine would be tougher on masonry construction than other types (i.e. wood, etc.).

I tend to think more in terms of the local situation. I think that, in general, buildings in Halifax would be less likely to be valued for their historical significance than, say Quebec City, to use your example. I also tend to think that in Halifax, there would be less of a tendency to spend money on maintaining/restoring decorative elements of older buildings than in other places. I suspect that keeping it functional would be considered most important, and that restoring crumbling decorations would be thought of as somewhat of an extravagance (my opinion).

I don't know the specifics of the Chateau Frontenac, for example, but I do know that it was built as an iconic railway hotel, and is one of the most prominent buildings in old Quebec City. I don't think it would be fair to compare it to any building in Halifax, although I suppose you could always say that the Hotel Nova Scotian and the Lord Nelson (both railway hotels) always appeared to be well-maintained (though perhaps slightly different in structure to Chateau Frontenac). I also seem to recall reading that QC had some degree of political will to maintain/restore/rebuild their old buildings, starting perhaps sometime in the 1960s (?) whereas in Halifax during the 1950s and 60s (and beyond, actually), old buildings tended to be thought of as "slums", and there was a movement to tear down as much as possible and build anew... definitely different philosophies between the two cities in terms of valuing old buildings as historical elements of the community.

Another thing to consider, in terms of the Customs House demolition, is that it was government owned, and that may have had an effect upon how it was viewed. A 60-year-old surplus government building that no longer has a use and needs a lot of money spent on it for repairs probably wasn't considered worthwhile to keep around, when perhaps its lot could be used as a functional element for the Dominion Public Building next door. It might be comparable to the Ralston Building, a surplus government asset that was recently removed rather than being restored, even though it was one of few buildings similar to it in the city. On a provincial level, it's also of note that the Dennis Building, even though it was built in the mid 1800s and a significant part of the old downtown, was just a hair away from being completely demolished (although only keeping 2 walls of the facade could hardly be considered "restoration"). I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have happened in old Quebec City (or Portland, ME, for that matter).

To bring the discussion back to the St. Paul building, it would be interesting to know the specifics of why the clock and other decorative elements were removed from the top. Other than the modern windows, the rest of the facade appears to be intact and well maintained (when standing next to the building, you can see that the masonry is in great condition). I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that there were structural issues that caused their removal. Perhaps it was similar to the removal of the (much larger) clock tower on the Dartmouth post office building - which occurred because the weight of the tower was creating problems with the structure of the building (or so I've read). Or perhaps elements were deteriorating and had to be repaired or removed - with the owner of the time not wanting to spend the money to repair/restore. Or, perhaps they wanted to remove the cornice to create a larger flat surface in order to install signage (like the 1980s version). Somebody knew at some time, but I'm not sure how one would find out today.

Anyhow, it's an interesting study, and somewhat fun to speculate over - as long as we don't lose sight of the fact that we are both just speculating.
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  #1438  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2023, 1:11 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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The Chateau Frontenac is/was for decades the finest hotel in the provincial capital of Quebec and for most of its life was owned by CP Rail. As such a hotel it required ongoing repairs, maintenance and updates to provide a guest experience that would ensure it was able to attract guests and be profitable. In short, lots of money was spent on it all through its life, unlike office buildings in a dying DT Halifax during the latter half of the 20th century. It has nothing to do with construction techniques or materials or climates, but is just a matter of money or lack thereof.
Stated much more clearly and much less-wordy than my attempt at saying the same thing, but yes I agree.
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  #1439  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2023, 4:17 PM
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On a provincial level, it's also of note that the Dennis Building, even though it was built in the mid 1800s and a significant part of the old downtown, was just a hair away from being completely demolished (although only keeping 2 walls of the facade could hardly be considered "restoration"). I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have happened in old Quebec City (or Portland, ME, for that matter).
I think this probably makes up the bulk of the difference between Halifax and other places. Note that the Dennis Building was also found to have problems. But every old building has problems and if not maintained eventually serious problems, and every nice building has some extra cost that wouldn't be deemed strictly relevant from a bean counter perspective, particularly public buildings. If you just looked at the function of Buckingham Palace you could say the same space could be provided as a tilt-up concrete box and maintenance costs would be much lower.

There's public value to these heritage buildings but that doesn't always translate into correct incentives for the people who own and manage them. Halifax can be very utilitarian relative to other comparable places, at least when it comes to the maintenance and planning around these buildings, although many people dislike when they are torn down and want to live in an attractive city.

"Aligning the incentives" I think just means doing some standard stuff common in other cities, like investing public dollars in maintenance and not letting developers tear down historic buildings for real estate development. If you allow a heritage office building to be turned into a taller tower that will generate millions in profits you will hear all sorts of reasons why that heritage building is terrible.

There have already been major mistakes IMO but a lot of it is reversible, like this Barrington building that could look a bit better with a bit more investment. There is also the potential to tactically reconstruct heritage elements, like around Cogswell and Historic Properties.
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  #1440  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2023, 4:29 PM
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There has been lots of good stuff happening too like more historic building registrations and mixed-use developments that preserve elements that would previously have been torn down.

However, I think this is still pretty timid compared to the heritage protections in a lot of other places. Not just Paris or Prague but multiple smaller cities around Atlantic Canada and New England.
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