Historical Buildings

Historical Buildings

Phillips Building

Phillips Building

10169-104 Street

The Phillips Building was built using the latest and greatest 1912 technology for owners N. W. Purcell and J. G. Kelly during the pre-WWI economic boom. It was made with sand-lime brick from the Alsip Brick and Supply Co. of Edmonton, and originally had a 22-foot wide arcade running through it — a ‘first of its kind in Edmonton.’ It was also one of the first completely fire-proof buildings in the city.

Initially leased to the Western and Cartage Company as a storage warehouse, the Phillips Building underwent a complete renovation in the 1950s when James Brody, owner of Brod-Ease Shoe Co., purchased it for commercial purposes. He gave it the name Phillips to honour his first grandson.

The building was sold to an overseas buyer in the late 1960s and then purchased in 1981 for $6M by Midco Equities Ltd. — owned by Bill Comrie of the Brick Warehouse furniture and appliance chain — with the intention of erecting a 25-storey office tower. The crash of the early 1980’s changed those plans. In 2002, renovations were completed by Chandos Construction to restore the Phillips Building to its original character by converting the building to condos.

Heritage Value

The Phillips Building is architecturally significant as a representative example of a commercial warehouse design that characterized Edmonton’s growth during the pre-World War One economic boom. Originally leased to the Western and Cartage Company it was built to store manufactured goods for regional and northern distribution.

Completed in 1913 and touted to be a made-in-Edmonton building, The Phillips Building was designed and constructed by Purcell and Foote, local architects and builders, and the Edmonton firm of Aslip and Company supplied locally made sand-lime brick. A unique feature of this building was the arcade, which provided an access opening through the centre of the building to the loading docks at the rear. The main facade was redesigned in the sixties and subsequently restored in 2001.

The Phillips Building, an important element of the historic warehouse area streetscape, is consistent in scale and character to neighbouring buildings on 104th Street and strengthens the transition between Jasper Avenue and the commercial warehouse district.

Character-Defining Elements

The commercial warehouse architecture of The Phillips Building is expressed in character-defining elements such as: 

  • the original 1913 west facade;
  • recessed window bays defined by pilasters with cast stone base and corbelled brick beneath the cornice at the parapet level;
  • the four recessed entrances with articulated quoin surrounds and cornice, the centre two entrances defining the original arcade through the building;
  • detailing of the window surrounds including cast stone sills and headers;
  • the dentilled metal cornice at the upper level and the storefront level;
  • brick corbelling and parapet projections;
  • the two date plaques on the west facade. 

Birks Building

Birks Building

10113-10123 104 Street
Percy Nobbs & George Hyde, Architects; Cecil S. Burgess, Local Architect, 1929

Henry Birks & Sons, based in Montreal, built this as the local flagship for their expanding jewellery business. They had a policy of building medical and dental facilities above their stores as a public service, and the Birks building was no different: it contained the most up-to-date medical facilities in Edmonton, including a built-in compressed air system. Although it was originally designed as a two-storey building, the extreme demand for medical and dental space was such that an extra two floors were promptly added. Construction efforts did not go unnoticed; approximately 5,000 people attended the building’s grand opening — hosted by Henry G. Birks, grandson of the firm’s founder — on November 15, 1929.

The Birks Building presents a beautifully detailed façade. Patterned brickwork with decorative stone, tile, and metal elements is tightly wrapped around a dramatically curved corner. Two-storey limestone surrounds bracket the storefronts, enlivened by coloured marble insets and cast bronze panels. Although the form of the building is contemporary — and points toward the later Streamline Modern style — the detailing is conservative and classically inspired.

Armstrong Block

Armstrong Block

10125-10127 104 Street
David Hardie, Architect, 1912

Built as a speculative venture by brothers Reginald and Herbert Armstrong, this prominent and imposing structure reinforces the line of historic commercial buildings on 104 Street between Jasper Avenue and the railway tracks. Unlike the other early buildings in the area, the Armstrong Block is unique in having offices and apartments on its upper floors rather than warehouse space. The façade is sophisticated in its use of materials and details, with a pressed red brick cladding, relieved by vertical pilasters capped with escutcheons that support a projecting cornice.

Heritage Value

The 1912 Armstrong Block is significant as structural evidence of the rapid expansion of Edmonton prior to World War One and the early development of the warehouse district, an area of the downtown that accommodated the city’s industrial needs until 1913. By 1914, however, the Block housed an unusual combination of commercial and residential functions; the lower portions of the building were designed for the needs of wholesale businesses while the upper floors were subdivided into apartments and offices. By accommodating the growing demand for office and residential space, the Block reflected the changing urban landscape of the downtown core, and appears to be the only remaining building purpose-built for mixed uses in the downtown area.

The Armstrong Block is also significant because of its association with designer David Hardie (1882-1930), who designed a number of commercial and residential buildings in Edmonton. It is an excellent example of the Edwardian Commercial style in Alberta and an important element of the historic warehouse district of Edmonton, that contributes to the character of the historic streetscape.

Character-Defining Elements

The Edwardian-era architecture of the building is expressed in character-defining elements such as:

  • form, scale and massing; 
  • red pressed-brick facade construction with projecting brick pilasters that are rusticated at the ground floor level;
  • cast stone detailing, including horizontal stone bands, sills and lintels;
  • central double-door entrance with elaborate arched cast stone lintel composition;
  • fenestration, including three rows of wood double-hung windows at the second, third and fourth-floor levels on all four facades;
  • two, large, main floor wood-framed, glazed storefronts with prism glass transoms;
  • upper and lower full-width pressed-metal cornices and pressed-metal garland pilaster capitals;
  • elevated front parapet with arched pediment and cast stone ‘A’ insignia;
  • a painted sign on the upper east wall;
  • protective roof structure above the lower level entrances on the rear elevation

Great West Saddlery

Great West Saddlery Building

10137 – 104 Street
Edward Collis Hopkins, Architect, 1911

E.F. Hutchings of Winnipeg opened a harness shop in Edmonton in 1889 and formed the Edmonton Saddlery Company in 1904. In 1900, after various changes in management, it was amalgamated with Carson & Shore to form the Great West Saddlery Company, which constructed this building to house its wholesale and retail activities. Surprisingly, despite the advent of automobile traffic, the company was able to stay in business and retained ownership of the building until 1958. This five-bay structure remains essentially intact and has been adapted for artists’ workspace and gallery exhibitions.

Metals Limited Building

Metals Limited Building

10184 – 10190 104 Street
Magoon & MacDonald, Architects, 1914; Richard Palin Blakey, Architect, 1927

Located on a prominent corner lot, the Metals Limited Building was designed in a utilitarian style, but the deft hand of the architects is revealed in their handling of both the angled corner entry and the decorative name plaque of precast concrete. Metals Limited was organized in 1910 with headquarters in Calgary to handle wholesale plumbing and heating supplies. Ownership changed in 1948 when the company was sold to Empire Brothers Manufacturing Company Limited. The building itself was sold and converted into retail and office space in 1975.

Heritage Value

History/Association: This warehouse built in 1914 to house a plumbing wholesale supply business is important as the representative of Edmonton’s emerging role as “gateway to the north” and the pre-World War One era economic boom. It is equally significant for its association with leading entrepreneurs of that era including owner William Roper Hull, an industrialist, real estate and meat packing entrepreneur who established the Gurney Standard Metal Company Limited in 1910 which later became Metals Ltd. The Metals Ltd. Board of Directors included A.E. Cross, James Loughheed and R.B. Bennett, all prominent in Alberta’s business and public life. Metals Ltd. and its successor companies occupied the building until 1954.

Architecture: The Metals Building was designed by Magoon and MacDonald, a well-known Edmonton architectural firm, who also designed Old St. Stephens College, McDougall Methodist Church and the Public Library. Herbert Alton Magoon (1863 – 1941) designs were influenced by his Chicago architectural training. George Heath MacDonald (1883 – 1961) worked originally as a draftsman for Magoon and later returned to school and qualified as an architect and Magoon’s partner. The Metals Building displays the competent design approach of Magoon and MacDonald including: balanced chamfered entrance way with tripartite second and third-floor windows, cast stone belt coursing, regular patterns of bays and windows and functional expression of the facade for stairways and utility rooms.

Landmark: As the last remaining historic warehouse west of 104 Street, the Metals Building links the east and west side of 104 Street and provides continuity to reinforce the urban character of the street.

Character-Defining Elements

The form and massing of the building including the design and materials of the principal elevations such as:

  • Chamfered facade entrance with tripartite double-hung windows on the second and third levels;
  • Strong solid base plinth with cast stone sill course banding at first floor;
  • A rhythm of windows in the recessed bays between brick pilasters
  • Corbelled brick dentils and metal cornice;
  • Jackknife doors with steel flat plate below each door;
  • Cast stone panel above the door ‘METALS LTD. ERECTED 1914’;
  • Two rose and leaf designs cast in stone on either side of the door entrance;
  • Timber door entrance, transom and sidelights;
  • Original painted parapet signs;
  • Circular opening or plate at the basement level westerly end;
  • The expression of functional relationships through window placement, in particular, the interior stairwell.

McKenney Building

McKenney Building

10187 -104 Street
Magoon & MacDonald, Architects, 1912

Designed by local firm Magoon & MacDonald, the McKenney Building was built in 1912 for $40,000. Utilitarian in form, this three-storey brick-faced building features a classically-inspired pedimented stone entrance. Situated at the corner of 104 Street and 102 Avenue, the McKenney Building relates well to the nearby Metals Limited Building, Revillon Building, and The Boardwalk, acting as a unifying visual link for the surrounding warehouse buildings and contributing to the heritage character of the area. The original owner and the building’s namesake, Henry William McKenney, arrived in St. Albert in 1883 from Amhurst, Ontario. He became a prominent businessman and was elected to the first Legislative Assembly as the representative for Clearwater.


Revillon Building & Annex

10201-10247 104 Street 
James McDiarmid, Architect, Winnipeg, 1912 (Annex, 1920)

In 1902, Revillon Frères, who represented a Paris-based fur trading establishment, selected Edmonton as the distribution centre for what was to become an empire of wholesale and fur trade stores. By 1912, expanding trade requirements called for the construction of the Revillon Building. Designed by Winnipeg architect James McDiarmid (who also designed the annex) and built by his brother John, it was the largest warehouse structure in Western Canada. Its construction marked a significant point in the evolution of Edmonton’s warehouse district; modern devices such as the automatic telephone exchange, pneumatic tubes, and spiral shipping chutes were first seen here.

The Revillon Building, like the Phillips, is exemplary of the straightforward, clean, and functional styling of utilitarian buildings of the pre-WWI era. Red brick walls rise above a stone base with a unique twinned corner entrance. Ornamentation is confined to the corbelled brick parapet, while visual relief is provided by emphasizing the vertical brick piers and the use of recessed inset spandrel panels. It is no wonder the Revillon Building, which dominates the intersection of 104 Street and 102 Avenue, is a landmark in the Edmonton warehouse district.

Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company Warehouse

Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company Warehouse (Cobogo Lofts)

10249 – 104 Street
Canadian Stewart Company, Designers, 1913

The Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company built this structure on the foundations of the Ker Building, which was destroyed by fire in January 1913 a year after its construction. Completed in only two months’ time, the contractor for the CCRC Warehouse was the Canadian Stewart Company of Montreal, who later built Edmonton’s iconic MacDonald Hotel. It opened for business on December 27, 1913, supplying northern Alberta with rubber belting, packing, hoses, waterproof clothing, felt footwear, automobile and carriage tires, and druggists’ rubber sundries.

Red brick walls cover the heavy timber structure, with precast concrete used for decorative accents on the window sills, lintels, copings, and date stone. The entry features projecting brick piers and a concrete entablature. An internal staircase is expressed on the front façade through the use of central staggered windows.

Heritage Value

The Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company building is architecturally significant as a representative example of a commercial warehouse building that characterized Edmonton’s growth during the pre-World War One economic boom. Built-in 1913 on the original foundation of the Kerr Building, which was destroyed by fire in 1912 with the loss of three lives, the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company building incorporated the most up-to-date fireproofing technology of the day.

The historical significance of the building lies in its long association with The Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company, which owned and occupied the building from 1913 to 1935 as representative of similar companies active in the warehouse district and its continued use as a warehouse well into the 1970s.

The colour, height, massing, texture, and number of detail elements of the building relate positively to the other buildings in the warehouse district making it an important contributor to the architectural and historical character of the area.

Character-Defining Elements

The commercial warehouse architecture of the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Building is expressed in character-defining elements such as:

  • the original 1913 west facade including full height pilasters capped with cast stone features, brick corbelling, dentils and parapet cornice;
  • window treatment at the centrally located staircase on the west facade;
  • the rusticated two-storey frontispiece with cornice, projecting brick detailing and brick brackets and cornice above doorway;
  • patterns of fenestration, window openings, cast stone windowsills and lintels;
  • building date plaque;
  • painted ghost signs.

Horne and Pitfield Building

Horne & Pitfield Building

10301 – 104 Street
Edward Collis Hopkins, Architect, 1911
J.H.G. Russell of Winnipeg, Architect; Magoon & MacDonald, Local Architects, Additions in 1923
Additions in 1947

This landmark structure was built for Foley Brothers, Larson & Company for $50,000. Having moved their wholesale grocery business west from Winnipeg in 1905, this new warehouse was seen as a ‘visible example of the faith they [had] in Edmonton, the gateway City and distributing centre of the last great west.’ Ownership passed to Campbell, Wilson & Horne in 1913, and in 1943 the firm was reorganized as Horne & Pitfield.

Edward Hopkins, the son of well known Montreal architect John W. Hopkins, utilized elements of the Chicago School in his design for the Horne & Pitfield Building, which was remarkably clean and modern for the time. The original five-bay structure was expanded in 1923 to the designs of a Winnipeg architect, which included five new bays to the north, just two storeys high. Another two storeys were added in 1947, completing the ten-bay, four-storey structure. With both additions, the existing massing and detailing was replicated, leaving the consistent composition we see today.