Movers and shakers

What a week Londoners have experienced in the realm of historic businesses.  The Great West Steak House location receives a new lease on life and the Children’s Museum searches for a new home, while the Idlewyld Inn closes its doors suddenly and Kingsmills goes up for sale.

The movers

Moving into an historic building:

Local marketing companies rtraction and Atmos Marketing have claimed the former Great West Steak House their new home.  While I had held out hope that a steak house would return some day (oh, the buffet!), having these firms take over this beautiful historic building will breath new life into the SoHo (South of Horton) neighbourhood – even if the building is technically north of Horton (NoHo?).  Great news for the community as the area continues its revitalization.

This grand old building was built in the 1880s by the Great Western Railway as a roundhouse, and the renovations will have as little impact as possible on the historic features of the structure.  Glad to see that they are banning any use of drywall, too.

Read the full story from Metro News.

Moving out of an historic building:

The announcement from the London Children’s Museum caused some surprise this week, after inhabiting the former Riverview Public School for over 30 years.  While the search for a new building and the move will likely take two to four years, the building went up for sale on Wednesday.  For a museum that takes in over 80 000 visitors per year, the building has held up well as one of the oldest schools built in London; however, the museum requires more space for visiting exhibits and they have concerns about ongoing maintenance.  Best of luck to them in the search for a new home (McCormick factory, perhaps?).

Here’s hoping a new owner keeps the heritage aspects alive and celebrated.  As an aside, two of my aunts attended the school back in the ’40s and remember the separate entrances for boys and girls.  They also recall one day when they arrived late and the principal threatened them with the strap.  How times have changed.

Read the full story from Metro News.

The shakers

Dilemma: put up (the “for sale” sign) or shut up (the doors)?

Shock hit the Old South neighbourhood and the city when the Idlewyld Inn announced the closing of its doors on Monday.  Operating as a boutique hotel since 1986, the mansion was originally built in 1878 as a private home for a prominent Londoner, Charles Smith Hyman (businessman, mayor of London, federal cabinet minister, and decorated player of cricket and tennis).  It became an apartment building in the ’30s and then a nursing home in the ’60s.

A beautiful building with many architecturally significant features, it certainly faces no danger of dereliction or demolition.  A new owner will likely take over the existing business and carry on with the inn – hopefully before any further weddings or other celebrations require relocation.

Read the full story from CTV News.

Downtown jewel up for grabs

Shock of another kind came from downtown, with the announcement that the iconic Kingsmills department store looks for a new owner.  The store opened in 1865, predating the confederation of the Dominion of Canada, and has remained a staple of Dundas Street for generations.  In fact, the store has been owned and operated by five generations of the Kingsmill family throughout its history.

Truly an anomaly in today’s globalized economy, many Londoners hope that a beneficial purchaser can take the reigns and continue on with business as usual. Losing this gem would strike at the heart of ongoing downtown revitalization.

Read the full story from Metro News.

Never a dull moment, eh?