Sorry for two posts in as many days. I don’t normally do that, but this door post was written several days ago. I suppose I COULD hold onto it for another week, but …. nah.
I’ve moaned and groaned more than a few times about my city’s tendency to run roughshod over heritage buildings in an effort to build one more critically important tower of concrete and glass after another (sarcasm intended).
In fairness, there have been notable exceptions and one of them resides hidden downtown within the massive 2 tower complex called Brookfield Place.
Situated within the Allan Lambert Galleria is the former Midland Commercial Bank, built in 1845, and later bought by Merchants’ Bank in the late 1800s.
This was one of a dozen buildings that survived a massive downtown fire in 1904 and the waves of demolition that followed. The facade of the Merchants’ Bank building was later dismantled from its original location and reassembled here.
The Galleria itself is 6 stories high and this tall expanse of glass and light was given the nickname ‘Crystal Cathedral of Commerce’. However, for me, it is not the towering glass ceiling, but the juxtapositioning of the old and new together, that makes this galleria so uniquely attractive.
I was enamored with this building-within-a-building from the first time I saw it many years ago.
In my research, I found a couple of pre-1904 photos of the old Merchants’ Bank.
In this first photo, I was thrilled to notice that the door on the far right is the same door that’s on the re-assembled building.
Another photo was found in a retrospective piece written to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Brookfield Place. This “before” and “after” shows the original building at a very different angle, but the missing street lamps in the first photo are clear in this version.
As a child, I used to love those school exercises where you had to compare 2 pictures and find what’s different about them. In fact, I still love doing that.
The most obvious difference I noted from these old photos was that the original building had a basement with windows visible behind the iron railing. Those windows are now missing. Whether or not there is still a basement in the rebuilt bank is unknown.
To my surprise, I discovered that the former Merchants’ Bank is only one of twelve heritage buildings contained with Brookfield Place. It seems that I will have several more reasons to revisit this massive complex.
Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.