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Teaching old digs new tricks

Resuscitating heritage buildings breathes
new life into Edmonton’s origins

Excelsior was among the first of the former warehouses on 104th Street to be converted into loft-style condominiums.


Phillips Lofts is an architectural centrepiece for the revitalization of downtown's 104th Street.


Cobogo Lofts is one of many buildings from the 1910s kept in use along 104th Street


The flatiron-style Gibson Block,has housed the Women's Emergency Accommodation Centre for the last 28 years.


Brighton Block still uses its original brick exterior, but inside is an all-new structure that allowed renovators to double the height of the original.


Goodridge Block is still used with its original intent as a mixed-use retail and office building.


The McLeod Building has a unique terra cotta exterior, in contrast with other red brick buildings of its time period in Edmonton.

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Photo feature by Gerard Murray

WHAT’S OLD is new again is a welcome message for the many people looking to add a bit of old-fashioned flair to Edmonton’s downtown core.

The demolition of El Mirador – a Spanish-style apartment complex built in 1912 – has put something of a fine point on the city’s habit of choosing replacement over renovation.

Still, some historical structures continue get new life in Edmonton’s core and surrounding area.

The Warehouse District, for example, has been adapted into rows of loft-style condominium buildings, with newer structures built around in the same style.

Several of these 20th-century landmarks have been repurposed for home, work and play – including the Phillips building and Excelsior, two former warehouses that line a reinvigorated 104th Street.

These reinventions are not exclusive to 104th Street either, with many other establishments of Edwardian-era architecture finding new uses within a modern context.

Among the most recent is Brighton Block at 96th and Jasper, a 1912 original that once was the home of Ernest Brown’s Everything Photography.

While many of Edmonton’s older structures retained their original foundations, Brighton Block only has its original brick walls. Rot forced the gutting of the interior, but allowed for a restructuring of the building to feature six stories instead of the original three. The original brick was used to create the facade.

In contrasting to these red-brick styles is the terra cotta of the McLeod Building at 101st Street and 100th Avenue, a 1915 design that retains its looks but features modern standards for living. It is nestled across from newer additions to Edmonton’s downtown, such as the Stanley A. Milner Library.

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