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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article


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

Its no wonder the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company Warehouse was trumpeted as one of Edmontons most fireproof buildings when it was erected in late 1913. The warehouse replaced a warehouse built on the site at 10249 104th Street that, within a few months of its 1912 completion, burned to the ground.

The January 17, 1913 fire, which destroyed not only the building erected by David .R. Kerr but also neighbouring buildings, claimed three lives. The original building was designed by renowned Edmonton architect Roland W. Lines and constructed by the contracting firm of Purcell and Foote. The total cost of the structure was $55,000.

After the fire, the site was purchased by William Allen, the head of a Winnipeg investment consortium. Allen constructed a new building for Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company, the prime tenant in the first building. The replacement was designed and constructed by the Canadian Stewart Company, the Toronto architectural firm that would go on to build the Hotel Macdonald.

The building permit drawings, still held in the City of Edmonton Archives, are dated

September 9, 1913. They indicate that the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Building was constructed on top of the original walls and foundations of the destroyed Kerr Building.

Construction began in October 1913 and was complete just two months later. With Edmontons skyrocketing inflation rate of the day, the replacement building cost $110,000 - about double the original.

To achieve a greater level of fire protection, reinforced concrete eight inches thick was used around the steam boiler and coal storage areas in the basement and fusible-link metal-clad fire doors were installed at each stairwell door on every floor. The interior stairs were constructed with steel risers, treads and stringers.

With its hefty construction, open plan and modest detailing, the building perfectly filled its intended use The Edmonton warehouse of the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company, managed by a gentleman called J.L. Bond, served the northern Alberta markets.

Stock included rubber belting, packing, hose, rubber and felt footwear, moccasins, lumbermen"s socks, automobile and carriage tires, druggists sundries and waterproof clothing. There was also a special department devoted to the repair of carriage and auto tires.

In 1935 Allen sold the building to the Royal Trust Company. The structure was renamed the Edmonton Building in 1961 and two years later it was purchased by Cobogo Holdings purchased. That company held it until 1970, when it was bought by Army and Navy, for use as a storage warehouse.

Ninety-two years after it was built, the structure remains a well-articulated but strikingly simple five and a half storey warehouse. While it shares many features with other warehouses constructed in the so-called Warehouse District of downtown Edmonton, it features more vertical emphasis than other warehouses. The architect achieved this by placing the centre bay of windows at the stair landings rather than each floor. Full height pilasters and the window treatment at the centrally located stair landings help reinforce the vertical expression of the building

Other unusual elements include the brick cornice, and the two-storey entrance feature, notable for the simulated quoin treatment of the brick, the bracketed shelf over the door and again over the stair landing window.

The red brick exterior, with cast concrete detail elements, lend an air of solidity and permanence to the structure. Alternating courses of brickwork at the ground floor main entry are projected slightly, enhancing the rusticated entrance detail.

Cast concrete is used for accents on window sills and lintels, date stone, parapet copings and at the tops of brick pilaster capitals. A date stone proclaiming 1913" is inset at the top of the front facade.

Exposed portions of the east, north and south walls of the building were used extensively for painted advertising by various tenants and if you look closely, you can still see many of the signs. Dominion Rubber Systems, Clark Bro. Co. Ltd., Paper Stationers and R.E. Brown Co. Brokers can still be discerned.

Exterior fittings from the original warehouse operation have survived on the east wall of the structure. They include a metal fire escape, a water stand pipe, a suspended heavy gauge metal roof canopy and the rail shipping platform.

If you'd like to offer your thoughts, please drop me an email at lawrenceherzog@hotmail.com

For information on reprints of previously published articles, check out my website at www.lawrenceherzog.com

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