Thursday, February 19, 2009

Niagara Falls Then and Now: Old Storefronts on Queen St. (Part 8 of 10)

This post looks at the north-side of Queen St. in Niagara Falls, Ont., from St. Clair Ave. eastwards towards Ontario Ave. (Click on photos to enlarge!)

below: Feb.8, 2009 - looking at the north-east corner of St. Clair Ave. and Queen St., where the Capitol movie theatre (formerly the Queen Theatre) had once stood (see also: Niagara Falls Then and Now: the Queen - Capitol Theatre)

above: Jun.6, 2017  the same corner; the TD bank has moved out, and the building's facade is undergoing changes.

below: At the left is the vacant site of the demolished Capitol Theatre building before the Lincoln Trust building was built. To the right (east) next to the vacant lot is the west end of the Woolworth's store, as seen on Oct.4, 1964. above: same view, Dec.22, 2008: the modern 'new' bank building stands on the site of the old Capitol Theatre, contrasting to the remnants of the deco upper facade of the former Woolworth's building.
below: ca 1930's - looking westward along the north side of Queen St., Woolworth's is seen at the centre right, a little farther back to the west is seen the marquee of the Capitol (formerly Queen) Theater. At the far right with the striped awning is The French Shoppe Ladies Wear. Note the streetcar tracks on Queen St.; also, St. Patrick's church steeple in the west distance.
The Woolworth's building was at 453 Queen St., and it was already there in 1932.
The next building (seen at the far right, where the French Shoppe is shown) could have been known as 447 Queen St., though in this jumble of buildings here, it is hard to correlate the actual street numbers to the actual business.
   In 1932, there was a business at 447 Queen St. called The Silk Shop. 
   I was interested in finding where exactly #449 Queen St. had been, because it was at this address on Queen St. where the famed Findlay and Foulis architectural firm once had their offices! (They had designed many iconic Niagara Parks buildings) I am not sure how many years F and F had been at #449, but they were listed as being there in 1932.
   Seeing as the French Shoppe building was just a single story building, then it is possible that Findlay and Foulis were actually located upstairs above Woolworth's, which for years had hosted a maze of professional offices located on the spacious second floor. { perhaps there were two different official addresses for the Woolworth building - #453 for the ground-floor store, and #449 for the offices above? Well, I now add that I believe there were two addresses for the upstairs offices: #449 and  #437!}
     In 1932, there were other professionals also located at the same address of 449 Queen St., along with Findlay and Foulis: Erwin R. Blake, a surveyor; Hamilton-Derrick-Millard, accountants; and Griffiths and Co., barristers.
   Seeing as the Woolworth building was just recently built (probably in 1930), it is quite possible that the upstairs offices would have attracted a higher caliber of professionals - it would have been, at the time, a top of the line, state of the art, modern commercial space, in a city still filled with aged structures dating back to the 1800's!
     By looking more closely at the photo below, we can see that there seem to be TWO similar entrance doors: an east-end door seen just near the right side of the photo (this door led upstairs to #437 Queen St.) and another doorway, seen a little farther to the west (just past the second parked car); I believe this other entrance door would have been #449 Queen St. - this would mean that Findlay and Foulis, and the 3 other firms listed at #449, were housed at the west side of  the Woolwoth's second floor, and were accessed from the westerly entrance door.
      The address "437 Queen St." shows that it, in 1932, was occupied by John H. Batten and Co., Investment Bankers, and by Cyril H. May, dentist - so they were the tenants occupying the easterly part of the Woolworth's upstairs office
    Interestingly, the address immediately to the east of the Woolworth's east-side entrance to the upstairs, was  # 447 Queen St. (housing Niagara Silk). Seeing as the street numbers run from east to west along Queen St,.it appears rather strange that the address numbers here (supposed to be going east to west) skipped in numerical order at this point, in that Niagara Silk was #447, yet, immediately to its west, the door to the Batten and May offices, was #437!)

above: same view, Dec.22, 2008. At the far right, where the French Shoppe once stood, is now the corner of a medical center. Looking closely at the east-door at the right, the 'new' street number of "4437" can be seen on the door at the far right (the door seen to the left of the tree). It appears that the other access door has either been removed or covered up by siding over the years.
below: same view, 1965 -  Kresge's straddles two different buildings: the west-side of S. S. Kresge partially located in the east-side of the 'Woolworth's' building, and the rest of the Kresge store-front extends eastward into the area where the French Shoppe had once been (seen earlier above) Looking closely at the area under the letter "G" you will notice the same discreet doorway: this was the upstairs entrance for #437 Queen St. one of  two entrances accessing the stairwell to reach the upstairs office area above Woolworth's.

  above: same view as above, Feb.3, 2009 - a recent eye-catching flag installation by Doug Vanasselstine atop the old Woolworth's facade cheered up the vacant building and brightened Queen St.
below: that doorway leading to the second floor above the former Woolworth's has the address of "4437" Queen St.
above: Dec.22, 2008, looking eastward along the north side of Queen St., same area. Large piles of "global warming" (!) line Queen St. Ontario's Liberal government had decided they could "stop global warming" by taxing the weather.
below: Dec.22, 2008 - looking westward at the north-side of Queen St. The medical building has eaten up a long stretch of the older facades: at the far west-end was where the French Shoppe, later part of Kresge's were,  then Stein's, then the Walker's store. above: same view, Sept.28, 1965. Where the French Shoppe had been is now the eastern part of Kresge's. Where the east-half of Kresge's, and Stein's, and Walker's Stores were, is now part of where the medical centre is.
below: Feb. 1966 - colour view of same location. El Win Tiny Togs store is at the right (east) of Walker's; at the far right is a corner of the Virginia Dare shop. below: The Walker Stores Limited facade as it was on Oct.4, 1964. It looks like the upper facade signage was a long mass of vintage vitrolite in two tones, with most likely stainless-steel lettering lit by neon - very cool! Unfortunately (as seen in the previous 1966 photo) this virolite facade was covered up with a mass of blue-coloured metal perforated sheeting, and probably plastic lettering. I suppose that metal siding had become a mid 60's fad/fashion thing, and this 'cheap' cover-up remedy was used to 'freshen up' countless older buildings everywhere. (Today, the favourite cover up is stucco: it's now everywhere) This building on Queen St., as well as Wallace's, Paternos Jewelers, Grader's, and the Seneca movie theater, all had beautiful vitrolite (and neon) storefront features. Too bad they didn't survive.
In 1987 the Walker's space had become a Sears outlet. below: Sept.28, 1965. At the far left (west) is the corner of Walker's - this is where the eastern-side of today's medical center, seen earlier, now ends.  (Note that the Walker's facade was seen on Oct.4, 1964 with the vitrolite facade, here we see that  by Sept. 28, 1965, the vitrolite had been 'modernized' with the metal siding)
The El Win Tiny Togs is in the middle, and Virginia Dare is at the far right.
above: Jun.4, 2009 - where El Win once was is now Pulp Comics; next to the right, where Virginia Dare once was, is now a gallery.
below: Oct.4, 1964. El Win's site is at the far left; then Virginia Dare; then Woods Wallpaper; and at the far right, Kent's Stores.

above: same view, Feb.6, 2009 - at the far left: El Win's was once where The Watering Can (later in 2009, the Pulp Comics shop) is seen. The next building to the right (east) was where Virginia Dare had been; the Hair Lover's Place was where the Woods Wallpaper shop had once been. At the far right is the former Kent's Stores building
above: May 1965 - Virginia Dare is at left; Woods Wallpaper, featuring Love Brothers Paints, is in centre; M.A. Kent Stores is at the far right.
above: same view, Oct.1966.
above: same building, Feb.6, 2009.
below: May 1965 - at Kent's Stores; to the far left is Wood's Wallpaper, and to the far right Lane's Restaurant.
below: same view, Sept. 1966, now renamed  M.A. Kent Stores. At right, Lane's Restaurant shows neon in the windows and vitrolite on the facade.

above: same view, Dec.22, 2008
below: Oct.4, 1964 - Kent's Stores is at the left; Lane's Restaurant Soda Bar Coffee Shop is seen next; then a vacant storefront (with a For Sale sign by McMillan realtors); then Robert's China and Watches was on the corner at right.
below: same view, earlier, on Jan.8, 1958 - the shop east of Lane's Soda Bar was a children's shop. At the rear of this building was the Rainbow Bowling Lanes.

above: same view, Feb.5, 2009 - Lane's Soda Bar was once at the left, Robert's was on the right corner. The building - including the bowling alley - has been converted to an office.
below: ca 1930's - looking at the north-west corner of Queen St. and Ontario Ave., where the lamp post is at bottom right. This view is looking westward up the north-side of Queen St. In the far distance can be plainly seen the marquee of the Capitol movie theater at St. Clair Ave., where we started this walk at the beginning of this post. In the foreground is the Walker's Stores building (which later was the Kent's Stores).
To the right (east) of the Walker's building, we see that there are two separate neighboring buildings: there is a house set back from the street (probably still with a front lawn; the house roof can be seen at the upper right, so it must have been a 3-storey building), and then on the corner, at the extreme right of the photo, a building with a storefront can be seen. These two structures were demolished at some point after 1932 to make way for the Lane's Soda Bar/ Rainbow Bowling building.
In 1932, the storefront on the corner was vacant, and the address of that property was 387 Queen St. The set-back house was at 393 Queen St., and in 1932 it was occupied by E. M. Matthews; and in 1932, the Walker's store building (address 397 Queen St.) was actually a Zeller's Ltd. Department Store.

above: same view, Feb.6, 2009 - the former Walker/Kent's/Zeller's building is seen in the centre; the Woolworth's is all a-flutter with flags further west along Queen St.
The older photos in this study are from the Niagara Falls, Ont. Library Archive; the recent photos are by R. Bobak.
See the next post in this ten-part series at: Old storefronts on Queen St., Part Nine
Or, go back to the beginning of this series at: PART ONE
Thanks for visiting Right In Niagara !

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