|A recent photo of the Hamilton Building. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.|
- Designed by well-known Chicago-style Winnipeg architect, John D. Atchison
- Replaced another Bank of Hamilton on the same site that was damaged by the construction of the Bank of Commerce next door
- 395 Main became the Main Street branch of the Bank of Commerce following the merging of the two Winnipeg branches in the 1920s
- Threatened with demolition to make space for a parking lot in the 1970s along with the Bank of Commerce
The Bank of Hamilton
|The original Main Street Bank of Hamilton Building ca. 1916. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Foote Collection #1345 [N2320].|
The Bank of Hamilton was established in Hamilton, Ontario in 1872. The first branch opened in Winnipeg in 1896. In 1897, plans were already underway for a move to a more prominent location. The building and lot on the south-east corner of Main and McDermot was purchased for $30,000 and extensive alterations and an addition were completed before the bank moved in in 1898.
In 1915, it was discovered that the construction of the new Bank of Commerce building next door (389 Main Street) had caused serious settlement problems for the older structure. It was decided that it would be better to demolish and rebuild a new Bank of Hamilton, rather than repair the damage.
|Caricature of John D. Atchison ca. 1909. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, N5242.|
Architect John D. Atchison was commissioned to design the building, working in association with H.C. Ingalls and F.B. Hoffman Jr.. Atchison was a Chicago-style architect responsible for the designs of nearly 100 Winnipeg buildings. A complete list of his buildings can be found here on the MHS website.
Construction of the new Bank of Hamilton began in July of 1916 but it would not be completed until 1918, due to material shortages caused by World War I. The total cost of construction was $400,000. By comparison, the Bank of Commerce next door cost $750,000 to build. The only "skyscraper" on Banker's Row, the Bank of Hamilton building was designed to hold its beside the magnificent Bank of Commerce next door.
Description of the Building
|The new Bank of Hamilton Building ca. 1969. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Architectural Survey.|
The building at 395 Main Street was made up of a steel skeleton that rested on concrete foundations; these were sunk 60 feet to the bedrock. The outer walls were brick covered with a simple, elegant limestone facade, while hollow tile was used for the interior. A massive archway over the main entrance displayed a magnificent bronze grill with the Bank of Hamilton emblem in the centre.
The building's foyer was lined in Botticiano marble with a ceiling of antique gold. The banking hall was accented with warm-hued marble, dark woods, bronze screens, and a beamed ceiling accented in gold leaf. The former bank manager's office was on the main floor, and both it and the second-floor boardroom were finished in fine woods. The upper seven stories of the bank were designed as general office space.
|The magnificent elliptical staircase in the building, undated photo. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the City of Winnipeg's Planning Department.|
Amalgamation with the Bank of Commerce
|A view of the main entrance to the building ca. 1969. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Architectural Survey.|
For many years, 395 Main functioned as the Main and McDermot branch of the Bank of Commerce, with a basement passageway connecting the two buildings. In 1969, the Bank of Commerce moved to Lombard Place, leaving the 389 Main Street banking hall and the bottom storeys of the former Bank of Hamilton vacant.
The principal tenant of the upper floors of the Bank of Hamilton was the United Grain Growers who rented large amounts of space until 1979. United Grain Growers was the first grain marketing organization of Canadian farmers that was larger than a local co-operative elevator company. In 1979, the UGG moved to their own building at Main and Bannatyne, leaving the Bank of Hamilton vacant. Another tenant, Pitblado, Hoskins, et al, was one of the city's foremost legal firms and occupied the ninth floor from construction until the late 1960s.
Threat & Restoration
|Portion of a brochure protesting the demolition of the Bank of Commerce and the Bank of Hamilton.|
From 1981-1982, architect Robert Gregoire of the Prairie Partnership supervised the restoration of the banking hall of 395 Main. The marble and gold leaf were cleaned, the original spaces were restored and the woodwork returned to its original finish. The upper storey offices were also renovated to meet modern standards.
|An undated photo of the fireplace in the second floor boardroom. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the City of Winnipeg Planning Department.|
Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.
Sources/LinksCity of Winnipeg Historical Report - Long
City of Winnipeg Historical Report - Short
Manitoba Historical Society - Bank of Commerce
Manitoba Historical Society - Bank of Hamilton
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