Windsor

2008 The Year In Review

Well, it would seem that after spending a good chunk of the afternoon sorting through photos from the past 12 months, that in 2008 the building stock in this city was severely beaten. Far and away this was one of the worst years I can remember since I started the site…

Industrial Fires

Fire claimed two prominently located old factories this past year. Above the building that houses Aaron’s Mini-Storage on McDougall went up in the spring.

The old Universal Fasteners Building at Walker and Richmond went up in flames to close out the year. Most recently the building was home to the Flag Depot.

Houses

The oldest parts of the City continue to bleed population. Actions like this don’t help. The owners of the new co-generation plant on Riverside Dr. beside the Ford Powerhouse, bought all the houses on Cadillac St. between Riverside and Wyandotte and demolished them. Granted, no one wants to live next to a power plant, but it’s a colossal waste of perfectly good houses.

This guy was located on Howard Ave. between Niagara and Elliott. This area falls inside the Erie St. BIA, and despite administration’s recommendation not to allow demolition, City Council gave it the ok. Now there is only one house and a 4 plex on that block.

Commercial Structures

This old Pizzeria Building on Ouellette met the wreckers for a parking lot.

This old Knights of Columbus Hall on Goyeau met the wreckers for a parking lot.

Club 801, formerly Jokers, formerly Leon’s originally the Rose Furniture Co. …

Along with the old Mother’s Pizza, originally the downtown A&P, both met the wrecking ball for nothing. The corner of Elliott and Ouellette remains a vacant lot.

Three for one in this shot! Left to right – Patrick O’ Ryan’s Irish Pub, the vacant former Royal Bank and the vacant former Manning House Hotel, all bit the dust. This one of the rare demolitions with an actual plan to build something on the site. It will be home to what the Windsor Star likes to call the “TD Bank Tower”. To me a tower has to be more than 3 or 4 stories, but I guess my definition of a tower is different than the Windsor Star’s… At least this site isn’t scheduled to stay a vacant lot, even if it’s just a lateral move creating a few more vacancies in the core.

The Bank of Montreal at the corner of Walker and Ottawa. Demolished despite the best efforts of the community. When I appeared before City Council, along with Chris Holt, the only councilors who supported the preservation were Alan Halberstadt, Fulvio Valentinis and Percy Hatfield. The site will be parking for the plaza behind it.

The Top Hat, long time downtown restaurant and the last of the old show clubs, fell to make way for a new Burger King.

Industrial Sites

In case we weren’t sure that the days of our industrial might are firmly in the past.

The massive and sprawling Ford Casting Plant, more than 70 years after it was built, vanished as part of Ford’s restructuring plans.

Churches

The former Christ the King on Dominion and Grand Marais, was sold to a developer who promptly got a demolition permit. I’m sure the site has a future as a strip mall or as a Rexall.

Signs

While the buildings themselves weren’t demolished, and still live on, a few signs around town after many years of service were removed.

O.P. Hamlin’s showroom and warehouse on McDougall, was built in 1960 and designed by local Architects Johnson & McWhinnie. The font on the lettering is identical to the old “WELCOME” that was on the Cleary Guest House. It was purchased and renovated after O.P. Hamlin closed and is now home to Community Living Windsor. If it hadn’t been for Community Living, then maybe the whole building and not just the sign would be on this years list. So after 48 years, the lettering is gone.

The Former Welcome Traveler Motel (now the Budget Inn) on Division Rd. These 1950’s era Neon lights were never operational as long as I can remember, but they were a throwback to the old Motels. After 50+ years the letters vanished this past spring.

The classic Firestone Garage on Ouellette and Gilles was cleaned up, painted and re-roofed this year. The “F” was long gone, but with the roof job the “irestone” also bit the dust. The garage was built in 1957, and the signs are original to the building. 51 years for that one.

The Loss of the Year

Of everything that was demolished this past year however, one demolition takes the cake…

The Seagrave Building on Walker Road was illegally demolished by its owner Ashok Sood, the owner of Champion Products.

Once the home of the Seagrave Fire Truck Company, the first motorized Fire Trucks Built in Canada were built in that building, it was also one of last early industrial buildings in Walkerville, as well as being of the mill style of construction. It was a rare building.

Ten years from now, we’ll still be talking about what a loss that was for the city. Too bad people like Mr. Sood are far too thick to realize the importance of what they had. Judging from the amount of stucco caked on the properties he owns, I doubt he even took a second to think about the significance of the property he owned.

The site is today a vacant lot, and I imagine that it will be for many years to come…

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve everyone!

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