Project 365 – Day 55: Endangered Heritage buildings

Feb 24 2012

I’ll be the first to admit, today’s photos are nothing to write home about, but I’ve got a new mission!

At a press conference yesterday, Heritage Montreal unveiled a list of 10 endangered heritage sites in Montreal together with a list of sites they have put on a watch list. I thought I should aim to get pictures of the buildings listed before they are probably lost forever.

I’ve listed the sites highlighted by Heritage Montreal at the end of the post, but for today I selected the Rodier Building on Notre-Dame street and the Dow Planetarium on Saint Jacques street. I plan to try and cover many others on the list in the near future.

First the Rodier Building. This triangular building is considered by some to be Montreal’s miniature version of New York’s Flatiron.

The Rodier Building - rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building – rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building was built in 1875 by Charles Séraphin Rodier Jr. who was the nephew of Charles-Séraphin Rodier, the mayor of Montreal from 1858-1862.

Most recently, the Rodier Building was occupied by the retailer Baron Sports which closed its doors in late 2010 and now sits vacant awaiting its fate in the Bonaventure Expressway redevelopment plan.
The Rodier Building - rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building – rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building - rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building – rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building - rue Notre-Dame

The Rodier Building – rue Notre-Dame

Just a few steps away to the east is the Dow Planetarium.
Dow Planetarium

Dow Planetarium

The Planetarium was inaugurated on April 1, 1966 by Montreal’s mayor Jean Drapeau. The Planetarium was conceived by Dr. Pierre Gendron, professor of chemistry and founding Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa and an avid amateur astronomer. At the time, Dr. Gendron was also president of the board of directors of Dow Breweries. It was through his impetus that Dow Breweries decided to endow Montréal with a world class planetarium.

The Planetarium were developed by the architectural firm of David-Barott-Boulva. Although not visible from street level, the dome in the center of the building resembles Saturn surrounded by its rings.

Front entrance of the Dow Planetarium

Front entrance of the Dow Planetarium

Side view of the Dow Planetarium

Side view of the Dow Planetarium

Rear view of the Dow Planetarium

Rear view of the Dow Planetarium

In Ocober 2011, the Planetarium closed its doors after 45 years. Star gazers though will have a new world class Planetarium which is currently under construction next to the Olympic Stadium. The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is due to open in the spring, 2013.

I was hoping that the projector would still be at the Dow and that I could gain access to take some shots of it – I thought it would make a great HDR subject. Unfortunately I was informed it had been dismantled in October last year and is currently in storage. It will however be on display at the new Planetarium, so I may still manage to get my shot.

Standing guard at the front of the Dow building is a monument to Nicolaus Copernicus, inaugurated as part of Exo ’67 and installed at its present location in Chaboillez Square in 1975. The original sculpture was cast in 1822 by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) and erected in downtown Warsaw in 1830. The Montreal replica was presented by the Polish-Canadian community in celebration of the Canadian Confederation Centennial and the Millenium of Christian Poland.

Monument to Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus at the Dow Planetarium

Monument to Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus at the Dow Planetarium

I’m not sure if the armillary sphere that Copernicus should be holding in his left hand has been removed or stolen (hopefully the former) and if plans are to relocate the monument to the new Planetarium.

Just a few meters away is an equatorial sundial by Dutch artist Herman J. van der Heide.

Equatorial sundial sculpture by Herman J. van der Heide

Equatorial sundial sculpture by Herman J. van der Heide

Although not on the list of endangered buildings, I also shot this old building next to the railway line on rue Ottawa and fairly certain it will not be a survivor of the Bonaventure Expressway redevelopment.

Derelict building on rue Ottawa

Derelict building on rue Ottawa

Derelict building on rue Ottawa

Derelict building on rue Ottawa

Finally for today, just across the street from the Dow is the ETS (École de technologie supérieure). Outside the main entrance is this modern sculpture – unfortunately I don’t know the name of the work or artist.

Sculpture outside the ETS

Sculpture outside the ETS

As I mentioned at the start, here is the complete list of endangered buildings and sites flagged by Montreal Heritage:

  • Viger Square, between Viger, Berri, St. Antoine and St. Denis Sts (see recent post)
  • Rodier Building, 32 Notre-Dame St. W
  • Cadieux Forge, 815 St. Paul St
  • St. Laurent/Monument National City Block, 1190-1220 St. Laurent Blvd
  • Griffintown Horse Palace, Ottawa St. between Eleanor and Murray Sts
  • Redpath House, 457 rue du Musée
  • Bonheur d’Occasion Workers’ Houses, corner of St. Ambroise and St. Augustin Sts
  • Empress Theatre, 5560 Sherbrooke St. W
  • Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus Church, 1465 Desjardins St.
  • Hôpital Miséricorde, 970 René-Lévesque Blvd. E
In addition Montreal Heritage have a number of other key sites on their watch list:
  • Dow Planetarium, 1000 St. Jacques St. W.
  • Municipal baths (in different city districts)
  • Eatons’ 9th floor restaurant, 700 Ste. Catherine St. W.
  • Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine House, 1395 Overdale Ave
  • Mount Stephen House, 1440 Drummond St.
  • New City Gas Complex, Between Ottawa, Dalhousie, Wellington and Ann Sts.

To view images in gallery format, simply click on one of the images below.

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Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.

– Martin

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2 Comments

  1. Laura Roberts (@originaloflaura) May 26, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Great images, Martin! Found your site by searching for images of the Lower Main area that’s slated to be razed (to build… absolutely nothing!), and for which people are planning a mock funeral this weekend (that story here: http://www.montrealgazette.com/travel/Mourning+Montreal+Light+district/6684207/story.html). Such a shame these beautiful old buildings are just being torn down instead of rehabilitated. Montreal’s older architecture is so beautiful, and I really miss it, living in an ugly and badly-planned city like Austin. Keep up the great work!

    • Montreal in Pictures May 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

      Thanks Laura. I read about the mock funeral planned for tomorrow to highlight the demolition of lower main…I hope to pass by and grab some pics !