Our first Stewart & Witton walking tour goes live!

Exciting news: as part of the Friends of St. Giles’ #StewartWitton150 celebrations, we launched our first Stewart & Witton walking tour, just in time for Grey Cup Week 2021!

Available as a free download, the tour is called “Major Works: Stadium Neighbourhood.”

Here’s what the Spec had to say in its Weekend Planner feature:

“Take full advantage of the self-guided walking tour featuring Stewart & Witton, the Hamilton firm behind some of the city’s most beloved landmarks, as they celebrate 150 years in Hamilton. The tour features four fabulous Stewart & Witton buildings in Hamilton’s stadium neighbourhood: the award-winning Playhouse Cinema; the Hendry’s building, home to Hendry’s Barbershop and the Barton Village BIA; the city-owned King George School; and St. Giles Church, Stewart & Witton’s Gothic Revival masterpiece. Download the tour free at stewartandwitton.ca.”

Jennifer O’Connor, Weekend Planner (Spec Dec. 10th)

All the works on the tour were designed in the 1910s by the prestigious Hamilton architecture firm of Stewart & Witton, which operated from 1904 until Lt.-Col. Stewart’s death at Vimy Ridge in 1917. Future Stewart & Witton tours (currently in the works) include two house tours and a downtown tour focused around the John Weir Foote Armoury National Historic Site on James Street North.

Many thanks to the members of the Friends of St. Giles who volunteered their time developing and later testing the tour route one fall evening, and to Naomi Bower for designing the tour map and Stewart & Witton 150 logo.

You need to visit St. Giles to appreciate its presence. Fine details abound, intricate hinges, fine moulding, stained glass, impressive doors, hidden delights on all sides.

Kathy Renwald

“Seeing these buildings all together, and in person, was such an eye-opener for us,” said Dr. Sarah Sheehan, a founding member of the Friends of St. Giles. “We hope others will enjoy this tour as much as we did!”

Of the Stewart & Witton buildings covered by the Stadium-area tour, only one, King George School, enjoys heritage protections. The former elementary school is a designated heritage building thanks to the late Bob Morrow, who initiated the designation process in 2014 when he was Ward 3 Councillor. Morrow was Hamilton’s longest-serving mayor, and also a St. Giles congregation member.

Despite over 2,500 signatures on a petition to save St. Giles — and being twice recommended for designation —  the vacant, pre-WW1 St. Giles Church building still lacks heritage protections. Although owners New Vision United Church withdrew their new demolition permit application in April, 2021, the fate of St. Giles remains uncertain.

Since early this year, the Friends of St. Giles have been advocating in favour of green adaptive reuse of the original 1912 church building, both as a municipal tool for climate action and for preserving the precious architecture, history, and community space that St. Giles represents.

More on Stewart & Witton: https://stewartandwitton.ca/about-stewart-witton/

Download the map + more info on #StewartWitton150 celebrations: https://stewartandwitton.ca/tours

Dignified school building topped with name plaque reading KING GEORGE and grand entrance portico flanked by pine trees.
Stewart & Witton’s King George School stands on Gage Ave. N. near the Tim Hortons Field stadium. Photo: Hamilton Spectator.
Gothic Revival church in brick and stone, flanked by mature trees, with red banner over the entrance advertising a contents auction with TimewellAuctions.com
St. Giles Church seen during New Vision United Church’s 2018 contents auction. Photo: John Rennison / Hamilton Spectator.
The Playhouse Cinema on Sherman Ave N, with 3 illuminated movie posters on the left, and refurbished neon sign lit up at night.
The newly reopened Playhouse Cinema (177 Sherman Ave. N.) Photo: Playhouse Cinema.
Black and white photograph of the Playhouse with old Playhouse Theatre sign and retail on both sides of the entrance.
The Playhouse Theatre seen in the 1940s. Photo: Playhouse Cinema on Instagram.
The Hendry's building on Barton St. E., seen on a sunny day, with refurbished neon sign and Hendry's Barbershop on the right.
The Hendry’s buiding (657–661 Barton St. E.) Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Closeup of the Hendry's building with refurbished neon sign (including clock) reading HENDRYS Shoes: A Barbershop. A Bar. A Meeting Place.
Hendry’s Shoes: neon sign for Hendry’s Barbershop (661 Barton St. E.) Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
The Hendry's building seen in 2012, with Hendry's Shoes storefront including black Vitriolite signage
Vitriolite Hendry’s signage, now displayed inside Hendry’s Barbershop. Photo: LoopNet.

With thanks to the Playhouse Cinema; Kathy Renwald; Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library; Martinus Geleynse, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada; The Hamilton Spectator; Naomi Bower; and the Friends of St. Giles.

Based in Hamilton’s Ward 3, the Friends of St. Giles are a group of neighbours and residents leading the community-based effort to save Stewart & Witton’s masterpiece, St. Giles Church.

friendsofstgiles.ca | #SaveStGiles | @StGilesFriends | stewartandwitton.ca | #StewartWitton150

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