The city of Hamilton, Ontario, where now four addy investments are located, boasts seven heritage districts and numerous heritage sites that are set up to preserve history and honour culture. One of those sites, the famed Lister Block has endured a lot over its 150 years in existence.
The Lister Block is just a 20 minute walk from addy’s latest property at 405 Main St. W. in the heart of Hamilton. We’ll take a look at this heritage building’s fascinating history – you may even want to stop by if you’re in the area.
What is the Lister Block?
The Lister Block is located on the corner of James Street North and King William right in Hamilton Centre. In 1886, Joseph Lister built the Lister Chambers on the site, which was one of Hamilton’s first multipurpose retail and commercial buildings. On February 23, 1923, however, a fire swept through the Chambers and destroyed the entire building in the dead of winter.
From the ashes of what was the four-storey Lister Chambers came the six-story Lister Block, built across a couple months in 1924. The construction was supervised by Joseph’s son, J. Edmund Lister. The Lister family first arrived in Canada from England in 1832, and Joseph’s endeavour to build a retail space on James street contributed to the area’s success as a business centre for decades.
What makes the Lister Block special?
By 1924 standards, the construction of the Lister Block was most innovative, creating a then unique retail space on a corner lot that was welcoming and integrated. A pair of L-shaped corridors were novel at the time; the one on the first floor boasted marble floors and arched ceilings. Street level retail shops featured vast bay windows while the middle storeys showcased wood double-hung windows. White terracotta decorated the lower storeys; it could also be found atop the sixth floor as well as along the cornices.
The Lister Block was both an aesthetic and functional triumph.
As happens with most historic sites, some of the talk around it is hard to verify. There are some reports that it’s among the first Canadian indoor shopping malls and featured one of the first indoor elevators. It’s likely not the first of either of those accomplishments, but it certainly was part of the trend of the times that changed the shape of business.
Lister Block rejuvenation
By the 1990s, the Lister Block lost its lustre, with business in the city declining. The downturn began slowly in the 1950s, and 40 years later, it was struggling mightily. Tenants were forced to leave while maintenance of the building suffered. The once beloved Lister Block was becoming an eyesore and an afterthought.
The property was bought in 1999, and last, in 2010, efforts were underway to not only preserve the Lister Block, but revitalize it, as some $25 million were pumped into a restoration project, including $7 million from the province. City offices are located within the building while restaurants and coffee shops have taken up space on the first floor.
addy in Hamilton
A growing population, revitalization project set forth by the city and new purpose-built rentals in development make Hamilton a popular destination in Ontario. That’s one of the reasons addy continues to return to the Ambitious City for investment opportunities.
The latest addy is a 96-unit, 100% affordable housing development that will make a small but meaningful impact on the length affordable housing waitlist.
It looks to be one of the first of many investments with primarily societal benefits. Only members can invest, become a member today to get involved in this opportunity and the many to come.