Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hosed Again! (Placeunmaking: Part Two)

Today's building has been Vandalized in the truest sense of the word. Think of Rome and its fall at the hands of the barbarians. The Vandals didn't just destroy the architecture that was Rome; they usurped it. They took over the buildings, putting them to new uses in keeping with Vandal culture. Over time many of the magnificent Roman structures were scavenged, picked bone-clean as the glory of Rome was dispersed in little bits, pieces and chunks of architectural stone around the boot of Italy.

I am sure that the man who bought the former Kayser-Roth plant thought he was an imaginative entrepreneur; he certainly would never think of himself as a barbarian, a Vandal. From the tone of The London Free Press article I found featuring the building and the present owner, he would never agree that plastering large, crudely painted City Centre Storage signs across the top of the former Kayer-Roth building, sealing the gorgeous doors, stripping the exterior of its heritage lighting and covering the windows with ugly metal sheets was a poor idea. Allow me to disagree. I think it is now a sad, forlorn building.

According to the blog Urbex Barrie: Copysix: In 1919, American industrialist Carl Freschl constructed this four-storey, 9000-square-metre structure on the corner of Bathurst and Clarence to house his hosiery business, Holeproof Hosiery Co. The company's flagship factory was in Milwaukee but was expanding by leaps and bounds. Holeproof already had a smaller operation in London, opened in 1911, but it needed to expand its production capabilities. As Freschl both received his raw materials, and shipped his finished goods, by rail, the new factory was built close to the rail yard.

This was a great location until the City of London closed the railroad grade crossing at Clarence Street in 1933. Holeproof sued for $50,000, which was no small amount of money during depression years. The case eventually worked its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The blog Urbex Barrie: Copysix does not tell us how the case was resolved.

In the years to come, textile giant Kayser-Roth would buy the company and run the factory until 1989, at which time they closed the Bathurst Street plant. At its peak the big red brick factory had been a busy place employing 500 Londoners in the knitting, ribbing, dying, finishing, shipping and receiving areas.

The 110 metre corner tower once held the tanks of water needed to dye yarn. Today it holds fading memories.

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