Early Years

In 2012, we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the construction and opening of the signature heritage building we know today as “The Hotel Hamilton.” Erected in 1887, the Victorian clay brick building was constructed by its original owner, Thomas Allen, a builder by profession. Following the trend of the day, he christened the building using his family surname and the stately structure was henceforth known as “The Allen Building”.

Over the years, numerous businesses and hotels in various forms conducted their business from the location on James Street North in Hamilton. The original tenant roster included:

#193 – John Colvin, grocer

#195 – Thomas Glass, merchant

#197 – William Pearce, tinsmith

#199 – Eliza Zoeller, Laundress

Businesses came and went over the years, however, a complete list of the tenants was difficult to come by. After sifting through library and municipal records, including photographs from the City archives, we have been able to identify additional commercial operations on the premises including:

1896 – 1901: American Wringer Co.

1896 – 1901: Queen’s Laundry

1909 – 1917: J. Grossman, Tailor

1922 – 1937: Zelig Goldstein, clothing

 

Hotel Expansion

In 1906 the building was expanded with an addition to the west side of the building along Mulberry Street, increasing the overall size of the structure by approximately 50% to its current 9,600 square feet. Commercial space fronting James St. North was converted into a hotel lobby and drinking establishment, and the building commenced its existence as the ‘Armory Hotel’. Its main clients of the day were the armed forces officers and their families from the Armory facilities directly across James St. North.

Over the years, ownership of the hotel changed, as did the name.   “The Drake Hotel” was born in 1950 and “The Siesta” at some point thereafter. The building reverted to its original Hotel Hamilton in 1966 and has carried on under this banner ever since.

 

Architectural Features and Significance

The building is typical of 1880’s commercial buildings in old downtown Hamilton. Erected during the reign of Queen Victoria, its angled corner entrance was used to unite the front (James Street North) and side (Mulberry Street) facades. The top of the building is capped by a cornice with wide eaves and paired corbel brackets. All the windows on the front facade have stone lintels and sills.

Original plaster ceiling medallions have been maintained and enhanced in the former hotel lobby in what is now one of the most popular cafes in Hamilton, The Mulberry Street Café. You will also find unique inlaid tile work in the floor of the café, a testament to the craftsmanship of the day.

Moving up to the second and third floors, you will notice the odd angles found on the landings of the original staircase, arched doorways and leaded fire doors. Removing the 125 year old lathe and plaster revealed uneven brick interior walls, demonstrative of the practice of assigning apprentice bricklayers to the interior walls which would be covered by lathe and plaster, while visible exterior walls were the responsibility of the master masons.

 

The Hotel Hamilton Reborn

In 2009 a small group of local businessmen recognized the need to acquire the building from its then owner, invest in the structure and return it to its position as a sentinel of James Street North. The dilapidated building underwent a 9 month complete renovation that included extensive structural work to the foundation, walls and floors; 60 new windows; complete overhaul of all electrical and plumbing services; and new heating and air conditioning. Today the Hotel offers up-to-date studio and office accomodations with the unique character of a heritage building. Welcome to The Studios at Hotel Hamilton!

Click HERE to view photographs of Hotel Hamilton in 2009, prior to renovation!