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Feature Article


Written By: Lawrence Herzog
Published By: Real Estate Weekly
Article © Copyright Lawrence Herzog

Buildings of Hardie and Martland

Working together and separately, architects David Hardie and John Martland designed some of Edmonton's most distinguished and distinctive buildings of the early 20th century. In 1912, they formed the local firm of Hardie and Martland " "Building Designers and Structural Engineers."

Their formal partnership was to last only three years, but during that time they designed several exceptional buildings, including Sacred Heart Church and Rectory and the Hecla Block. Before they joined forces, David Hardie had designed designed the John C. McDougall Hilltop Residence (1912), the Tyrone Apartments and The Armstrong Block (1912), among several other notable local buildings.

John Martland was born in England in 1878 and schooled there. He came to Edmonton in 1910 and worked first with renowned architect Roland Lines, (who was later killed in the First World War). Martland joined the City of Edmonton's building inspector department until he and Hardie formed their practice in 1912.

Martland was to go onto a long and productive career, including a stint as the City of Edmonton Architect between 1930 and 1943. Among his commissions were the City Market, built in 1933, and Hangars #2 and #3 at the Edmonton Municipal Airport, built in 1937 and 1938.

Martland retired from architecture in 1953 at the age of 75. Hardie worked as an architect in the city until the 1930s.

Hardie and Martland's working drawings of the Hecla Block -- copies of which survive in the City of Edmonton Archives -- are dated April 1914. The blueprints provide evidence that the structure's origins, bearing an Icelandic flag and the name Hecla. Application for a building permit at what is now 10141 95th Street was made on May 29, 1914, and the permit for work valued at $40,000 was issued the same day.

Their design, which tends towards Edwardian Classicism or classic revival, called for reinforced concrete foundation topped by brick walls and a wood frame structure supported by steel columns and beams. Even today, after standing more than 90 years and surviving a fire, the Block exudes character. Its double facades are topped with a parapet that contains the inscription "Hecla Block" and it boasts rounded pediments, tapestry brick facing, ornamental keystones over windows and stone accents.

The Hecla was constructed to house working class residents, but that doesn"t mean the place didn"t have its own elegance. Tile work in the foyer under the arched front entrance contained the name "Hecla" inlaid and there were brass and glass vestibule doors, a skylight over the stairwell and brass door plates.

When Sacred Heart Catholic Church was built in 1913 at 10821 96 Street, its 130-foot north tower was the highest spire in the city. The Gothic-styled and French-influenced structure was erected on a 62 by 90 foot concrete foundation and constructed by Duffie and Bolger at a cost of $75,000.

When it opened on Christmas Day 1913, there was room for 1,000 parishioners. Some of the structure's defining characteristics include the two-tower plan and the centre stained glass window with its pointed arch on the west face.

In 1912, the year Hardie and Martland joined forces, several of David Hardie's designs were completed. They included the Hilltop House, built for pioneer businessman John C. McDougall and his wife Sophie.

The three-storey mansion, at 9910 103 Street, took more than a year to complete. It featured such innovations as piping for natural gas, which wasn"t available in the city until 1917.

Built in the four square rectangular style popular at the time, the house was set atop a concrete foundation, framed and sheated with wood and clad with brick. It held a commanding view on the lip of the North Saskatchewan River valley and was a significant addition to the upper middle class neighbourhood that had sprung up on the southern edge of downtown. The house passed from the McDougall family into the hands of the province, which owned it for 50 years until putting it on the market in 2003.

Hardie had a flair for style, and even his utilitarian buildings had a sophisticated touch. When the Scona Garage & Apartments opened at 10505 81 Avenue in 1912, Strathcona's local paper, the News-Plain dealer, described the two-storey rectangular brick building as "palatial."

The article went on to describe the first storey as "devoted to the needs of ailing automobiles, probably one of the finest motor hospitals in Canada, and certainly the finest in the west." With room for 65 automobiles, it was an enormous facility in the early days of the motor car.

The structure was constructed by owner Otto Edinger at a cost of $40,000, while the machinery in the garage was valued at $8,000. But it wasn"t just the "motor hospital" aspect that made the building significant.

The second storey was designed as an apartment house "on a modern flat system. The accommodation is arranged in suites and single rooms and the scheme will satisfy a long-felt want," the paper reported.

Some suites featured marbled glass windows, allowing light from the four skylights to stream down into the centre hallway. Outside, a crenellated roof line was adorned with crests and terra cotta trim.

The Scona Garage and Apartments continued serving its originally intended function until 1974 when it was leased to a restaurant. At that time extensive renovations were made to the ground floor while the second floor was sealed for use as storage.

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