Our speaker this month was Adrian Petry, the visitor services coordinator at the St. Catharines Museum, who spoke about Lost and Historic Architecture in St. Catharines.
Adrian started off by giving plugs for a couple special events including guided canal walks and also guided spirit walks at Victoria Lawn Cemetery. These historical and theatrical walks tell the story of people and places who have disappeared from the city’s landscape. Tickets and further information are available from the museum.
Adrian, a graduate of history programmes from both Brock and Western University, highlighted his presentation with pictures of old buildings from the past as well as fire insurance plans which d-tailed streets and buildings in the downtown area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
He started off by showing a picture of the old Lincoln County Jail which was built on Niagara Street in 1856 and served until it was demolished in 1973. He also related the story of a gruesome axe murder in 1936 which resulted from a dispute between neighbours over a fence.
Other buildings illustrated included the Carnegie Library, built in 1905 and torn down in 1977 to make way for the current court house. Adrian also showed pictures and gave brief histories of such buildings as Merritton Central School (1893- 1979); the elaborate Federal building and post office at the corner of Church and Queen streets; the bank of Nova Scotia, at the corner of St. Paul and James streets and the Prendergast Block on St. Paul Street that stood until 1949.
Adrian also displayed a picture of a very different looking Welland House Hotel with an elaborate entrance that he said faced onto Ontario street. He also had pictures of two churches with unusual architecture – St. Barnabas, built in 1893 and St. Thomas, built in the 1870’s.
Adrian left his audience to ponder this question: “What is lost through the destruction of old buildings?”
September will be our club’s annual general meeting and our speakers will be Carla Mackie and Alan Veale talking about the historic Morningstar Mill at Decew Falls.