Monday, February 8, 2010

Old Storefronts on Colborne St., Brantford, Ont.

This post looks along the south side of Colborne St. in the city of Brantford, Ontario, at the area outlined below in red. Many buildings along Colborne St. (between Brant Ave. at the west, to almost Market St. at the east) are scheduled for demolition. (see rear-elevations of these buildings here) (Note: click on photos to enlarge!)
above: satellite view of buildings along Colborne St. This post starts from the building marked 'A' above (the "Huntington Block', built 1867, seen at the top left corner of the red outlined area) and moves along to the east. [Note above, at the upper right, the still-vacant site between Colborne St. and Dalhousie St. which has since been redeveloped into a low-rise apartment and a parkette, Harmony Square]

above: the above two satellite views give a closer look at the buildings along Colborne St. which are slated for demolition, and which are the subject of this post.
above: this is an 1875 bird's eye view of the same area of Brantford which was seen in the above satellite shots. The area outlined in red is about the same area as outlined in the top satellite photo. On this 1875 map, looking up towards the upper right within the outlined area, it's hard to tell where the row of today's existing buildings (slated for demolition) would have ended, and which buildings are the same today and which ones have been built/changed/replaced since 1875. This map was in the book Brantford, Grand River Crossing by Janet Kempster and Gary Muir.
Note that the canal is shown south of Water St., this is about where the parking garage and Icomm Dr. now are; note also what is possibly a lock on the canal connecting to the Grand River, and note the Brantford, Norfolk and Port Burwell railroad line and bridge over the Grand.
In this post we will walk (starting from Brant Ave.) eastward down Colborne St., looking at the row of boarded-up storefronts and vacant buildings along the south side, as they were seen on Feb.8, 2010.
above: standing at Brant Ave., this view looks east along Colborne St. The line of buildings seen at the right are now largely vacant. The old canal once ran behind these buildings at the right.
above: the Huntington Block, at 35-39 Colborne St., built in 1867 by Arunah Huntington, who had also been elected as Brantford's mayor in 1852.
above: the east-half of the Huntington Block; note the yellow vitrolite and stainless steel storefront facade at Hollywood Hairstyling
above: vacant interior of Hollywood Hairstyling
above: Lamont Aluminum (building built in 1913) was at 41 Colborne St. In the 1940's and 50's, there had been a lunch counter here.

above: vacant interior of Lamont Aluminum
above: 43 Colborne St. is at the right
below - closer view of 43 Colborne St., note the stainless-steel pushplate on front door with the large letter 'S', for former occupant Stradwick's Floor Coverings store.
#41 and #43 Colborne were both built in 1913 - they were built on the site of 'The Theatorium' (former address #43 Colborne St.) which exploded in 1908, killing two people.

above: interior of vacant storefront at 43 Colborne St.
above: 45-47 Colborne St, the E.H. Holt block; this building was built soon after the 1908 Theatorium explosion, replacing an earlier structure destroyed by the blast. The previous building had once housed a Chinese food restaurant and the Red Line Bowling Alley and Shooting Gallery.
above: the buildings along the south side of Colborne St. sit on a slope which drops down at the rear. Note the building at the left has the faded remnants of a hand-painted sign on its west-side wall, closer view below:
above: the word "Superior" can be still seen, the rest of the sign isn't clear

above: the streetscape is reflected from the plateglass storefront windows, on which can be seen the Gucci Bros. sign, painted on the glass in classic hand-lettered drop-shadow gold-leaf font.
above: interior of the vacant Gucci Bros. Barber Shop
above: closer view of Gucci Bros. front door at 57 Colborne St.

above: 63 Colborne St., note the old door at left with the Victorian rosettes and the letter slot.

above and below: the old Esquire theatre. Note the stylized stone Thunderbird at the center top. The descending disks below the Thunderbird appear to have been attached to a background of red vitrolite tiles, which had been at some point painted black, and are now seen partially peeled revealing the red underneath.

below: 71 Colborne St. is to the left (east) of the old Esquire theatre.

above: closer view of 71 Colborne St. above: interior view of 71 Colborne St.
above: looking across the street from the entranceway of 71 Colborne St.

above: vacant interior of Zorba'sabove: to the left (east) of Zorba's was 77 Colborne St.
above: note the recessed storefront display lights. Note the reflection in the window at the upper right of the pedimented former Masonic Hall building across the street.
above: 77 Colborne St.

above: closer view of Harvey E. Flood Jeweller's upper facade, at 81 Colborne St.
above: looking out to Colborne St. from Harvey E. Flood Jeweller's entrance way. Note the striped terrazzo storefront entranceway.

above: My Thai restaurant was still open for business on Feb.8, 2010; it was the last place open on this doomed stretch of urban landscape. By Feb.15 it was closed.

above: sign on the International Hair Salon noted that they moved to Lakeshore Blvd. in Etobicoke. Note hair-care bottles left in the window of the vacant store.
above: vacant interior of International Hair Salon

above: interior of the vacant Ideal Pizza

above: closer view of Kris Jen's Cafe, which as of Feb.8, 2010 seemed to still be occupied; on Feb.10, the interior furnishings were being removed. Underneath the entrance floormat was a green-on-white terrazzo inscription indicating that this building had once housed Ostrander's Jewellers, below:

above: the green-painted Super Bowl building was at 99 Colborne St. It had some intricate brickwork at its upper facade.
above: interior of the vacant Super Bowl restaurant
above: in the centre, with the white-painted brick, is 101 Colborne St., built ca.1867

above: in the centre building, the right side (with the orange sign in the window, lastly the SPCA shop) is #103 Colborne St., and the left side is #105 Colborne St.
above: storefront at 105 Colborne St. had an inlaid mosaic entranceway floor, closer view below

above: peeling Cafe Linh sign (from the late 1980's) at 107-109 Colborne St.
above: vacant interior of former Cafe Linh
above: wood slats cover what had been a black vitrolite facade on this storefront at 111 Colborne St.
above: the Art Stanbridge walkway is just to the left; the end building is at 113 Colborne St.above: the 'Art Stanbridge' walkway bridge leads from Colborne St. to a long parking garage structure which sits behind the storefronts at a lower level: the buildings along the south side of Colborne St. here sit at the edge of a slight rise, which drops off right behind them. The walkway crosses Water St. to get to the garage.
(This setting is remarkably similar to the row of commercial buildings along St.Paul St., north of Ontario St., in St.Catharines, Ont. which also sit on a rise dropping off at the rear. Also interesting is that both cities once had a canal waterway (both since filled in) flowing down in the lower level right behind their old downtown commercial strip; and both cities have rivers running behind as well
below: standing in front of the Art Stanbridge walkway (the corner of which is seen at the upper left), looking westward along the south-side of Colborne St.

above: looking westward along the south-side of Colborne St. from the same location as above; note, as of Feb.8, 2010, My Thai restaurant's sign was still calling out for customers on this deserted street; several days later, the restaurant, the last business still open on this stretch, had closed. Note the street lamp-posts have all had their globes removed. The Grand River valley is in the distance.

above: former Right House department store

above: closer view of previous building; note the exterior wooden window sills! above: vacant interior of above building.
above: looking westward along the south-side of Colborne St.
The building at the left (the 'Smith' building, built 1867, address 151 Colborne St.) is the last of this entire row of buildings which are to be demolished.
The above photos were taken by R.Bobak, documenting Colborne St. in Brantford, Ont., as it was seen on Feb.8, 2010. Note: my photos are copyright protected. Reproduction of my photos without written permission is prohibited.
For further views of the rear facades of this same row of buildings, see here - "Colborne St. Brantford, Ont. - historic stretch of downtown buildings, photos prior to demolition".


popi latsi said...

I used to live on Colborne St. 23 years ago. I currently live in Greece. I was shocked to see these photos actually by chance...a real ghost town! The green building upstairs used to be Sam & Bessie's Tailoring for 15 years. The best tailors in town! I grew up on this street in its 'high season' when the hustle and bustle filled the town day and night. God bless those who posted these photos...they brought back many unforgettable memories.

SB1974 said...

R. Bobak - how do I get in contact with you!? I need to talk to you about a still-video I'm creating as an elegy for these blocks - and I want to use a GREAT number of your photographs.

R.Bobak said...

SB1974: you can leave me your full contact information right here,I will contact you. As you know, my Brantford Demolition photo-essays are my copyrighted personal property.