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Heritage Week 2017

For immediate release 

In recognition of Heritage Week (Feb 20-26), Architectural Conservancy Ontario - London Region and Heritage London Foundation today announced their 2017 Top Ten ‘Buildings on the Brink’ List.

First launched in 2006 by Heritage London Foundation, the list brings attention to the state of significant heritage properties in the area that have been vacant for awhile and/or whose heritage value is at increased risk. 

Every one of the buildings on this year’s list is heritage-listed or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act but their deteriorating condition - and as a result, their inclusion on this list - make it obvious that this does not mean they are safe from the ravages of neglect, the elements, or a lack of incentive and/or enforcement tools. 

“Heritage buildings must be actively protected - especially while unoccupied - and incentives made available to re-use them and bring them back to life.” urged Maggie Whalley, ACO London Past President. 

Some previous ‘Buildings on the Brink’ properties have become award-winning success stories including the Normal School, the Capital Theatre / Bowles Lunch, Buchan House, and Blackfriars Estate. Others, including Alma College, Locust Mount, and Middleton House at CPRI, have been demolished or destroyed by fire. 

“When we destroy heritage buildings, we sever tangible connections to our city's unique history and culture.” said Mike Bloxam, ACO London President. 

As London continues to grow inwards and upwards, and increasing numbers of people want to live in the city we must find more creative and robust ways of conserving and re-purposing our oldest heritage buildings. 

Our deep downtown city blocks are ideal for set back mid- and high-rise infill development that maintains the historic, people-friendly streetscapes, and the many acres of surface parking lots are shovel-ready sites for striking new buildings that will become our grandchildren’s heritage. 

“We are the custodians of our past, our present, but especially for our future. Other cities have learned that heritage buildings can happily co-exist with new developments and both are enhanced by the other.” noted Maggie Whalley, ACO London Past President. 

These valuable at-risk heritage assets would benefit greatly from the successful adoption of Private Member's Bill C-323  An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Rehabilitation of Historic Property) currently before Parliament. This Bill, inspired by the highly successful 40 year-old US Federal Historic Tax Credit Program, would provide a 20% tax credit on eligible costs for rehabilitation work done to designated historic places (commercial and owner-occupied residential).  

Adoption of Bill C-323 would result in the numerous jobs for skilled workers engaged in building rehabilitation, capitalization on materials and energy already invested, dramatic reduction of demolition waste, and provide an ideal way to promote our heritage as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. 

2017 Top Ten ‘Buildings on the Brink’

Wright Lithographing (c1902) 424 Wellington Street

Designed by London architects Hubert Carroll McBride & Frederick W. Farncomb; home to London Life (1906-1927) and Wright Lithographing; landmark red brick building with iconic four-sided public clock mount; vacant for over 10 years.

Deep lot ideal for mid- / high-rise infill to rear

Suggested uses: offices, restaurant/café, studios & galleries, apartments 

Lilley’s Corners (1871) 609 Dundas Street & Lilley Livery Stable (c1890) 620 Marshall Street

First commercial structure erected in Old East; named for local businessman, postmaster, and London East’s first mayor Charles Lilley; "Lilley's Corner: 1867" date stone refers to when Lilley bought the land, not the date of construction; Hudson’s department store vintage neon sign.

Suggested uses: retail, offices, restaurant/café, studios & galleries, specialty food store, artisanal manufacturing, fitness and wellness establishment, apartments 

Elsie Perrin Williams Memorial Library (1940) 305 Queens Avenue

Designed by London architects Thornton McBride and L. Gordon Bridgman; one of only three Queenston limestone Art Deco buildings in London (others are Dominion Public Building and Bell Canada building); built using funds from estate of Elsie Perrin Williams who also willed her home to the city; provided community educational and cultural facilities including an auditorium, museum, art gallery, and outdoor reading garden; vacant since 2002.

Canadian Register of Historic Places:

Ideal for setback mid-rise tower addition similar to Delta Armouries

Suggested uses: City archives, offices, restaurant/café, studios & galleries 

London Psychiatric Hospital (1870) 850 Highbury Avenue North

Designed by London architect Thomas H. Tracy; provided care to 1700 patients by 1930s; hospital supervisors Drs. Henry Landor and Richard M. Bucke led innovative and humane therapeutic treatments at the landscaped and agricultural setting; heritage features include tree-lined avenue, Chapel of Hope (1884), Horse Stable (1894), Infirmary building (1902), and Recreation Hall (1920); vacant for many years.

Canadian Register of Historic Places:

Extensive grounds ideal for variety of infill developments

Suggested uses: offices, healthcare & personal care services, restaurant & cafés, studios & galleries, day care centres, fitness and wellness establishments, artisanal manufacturing, apartments 

London and Western Trusts (c1920) 353 Richmond Street

Home to London's first trust company established in 1896; Neo-Classical Revival facade, interior features original ornate plastered ceiling, wood panelling, and marble trim; vacant since 2003.

Canadian Register of Historic Places:

Suggested uses: offices, retail, restaurant/café, studio/gallery, fitness and wellness establishment, artisanal manufacturing 

Fraser Hotel (c1892) 183 King Street

Built as the St. James Hotel, became the Fraser House hotel & tavern, and then ironically the the Young Women’s Christian Temperance Union; Second Empire style building features distinctive two-storey bow-window; vacant since 2010.

Deep lot ideal for mid- / high-rise residential infill to rear

Suggested uses: retail, offices, healthcare / personal care services, restaurant/café, studios & galleries, fitness & wellness establishments, apartments 

The Cedars (c1880) 1266 Riverside Drive

Served as an boating/athletic club before Herbert A. Sabine bought it in 1906; Sabine/Lamb family home until 1978; landmark Victorian home features an unusual double arcade verandah; vacant since 2013.

Suggested uses: restaurant/café, fitness and wellness establishment, healthcare / personal care services, residential 

Granger-McMahen Block / Gardner Galleries (1908) 186 York Street

Designed by London architect William George Murray; built as dry goods wholesale warehouse; one of only two remaining glazed terracotta buildings in London (other is McCormick’s factory in Old East); interior features original office partitions; vacant since 2014

Deep lot ideal for mid- / high-rise residential infill to rear

Suggested uses: offices, studios & galleries, fitness & wellness establishments, artisanal manufacturing, apartments, healthcare / personal care services 

Loew's London Theatre (c1920) 194 Dundas Street

Designed by renowned American theatre and cinema architect Thomas Lamb who created over 300 theatres across North America including Toronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre (1914); Beaux-Arts building hosted vaudeville legends, concerts, and films; main theatre demolished 1990s but ornate hallway remains including terrazzo floors, gilded window mirrors, barrel-vaulted medallion ceiling, brass chandeliers, and marble baseboards.

Listed in Canadian Register of Historic Places:

Deep lot ideal for mid- / high-rise residential infill to rear

Suggested uses: retail, offices, healthcare / personal care services, restaurant/café, studios & galleries, fitness & wellness establishments, apartments 

Nan Finlayson's home (1896) 100 Stanley Street

Well-maintained Queen Anne style home with many original interior features; landscaping features award-winning native plant and butterfly garden; proposed for demolition to allow for widening of Wharncliffe Road for additional lanes of traffic. 

Architectural Conservancy Ontario - London Region (ACO London) is a volunteer-driven advocacy organization founded over 50 years ago with the threatened destruction of London’s original financial buildings, the Ridout Street Complex, now a National Historic Site. ACO London is committed to conserving London’s heritage architecture through public awareness and advocacy. We support and encourage architectural conservation through reuse and repurposing of older buildings, the creation of Heritage Conservation Districts to protect our historic neighbourhoods, and the active retention and maintenance of London’s unique history as embodied by its built heritage. 

Heritage London Foundation (HLF) is an innovative charitable organization founded in 1981 that advocates for the preservation of significant heritage properties. Created when the wrecker's ball was rapidly destroying many of London's architectural treasures, HLF now provides viable contemporary uses for two beautiful properties, the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate and Grosvenor Lodge, and is open to future projects.


Celebrating & promoting London’s built heritage since 1966

Earlier Event: February 24
Mayor's Newsletter
Later Event: February 28
Pancake Supper - Trinity United