New Life in Walkerville
Elaine Weeks, photo Darren Kwok
After years of standing vacant, the building at 1645 Wyandotte Street
East, former home of the exclusive Walkerville furniture store,
O'Neill-Bernhardt, is undergoing a long awaited facelift.
began in late spring when a crew hired by purchasers Archon Architects
and their partners, the owners of Woody's Outhouse and Dean Martini's,
initiated the renovation process. City Hall does not possess any
documentation as to exactly when the building was erected, although
the owners put it at somewhere between 1917 and 1920.
is known however, that this building was not the original Bernhardt
building. That structure, formerly attached to the east side of
the building undergoing renovation, was the old Bernhardt Furniture
Store. The store expanded to include the adjacent building some
time in the 60's or 70's and the old Bernhardt building was torn
down in 1998 after having fallen into a state of disrepair.
one time, the remaining building was owned by the W. Hampton Moving
and Storage Company - the old painted sign was revealed when the
brown aluminum siding, which covered all the original windows and
brickwork on the upper floors was removed.
the building enters its new life as the Walkerville Professional
Building, late in November, plans include new offices on the third
floor for Archon, designers of the renovations, who have outgrown
their original location on Drouillard, offices will be on the second
floor and retail space on the main.
look of the finished project will be a marriage of old and new.
The original, drafty windows will be replaced by large, insulated
versions to create a funky warehouse look. An interplay of red brick
and white concrete will accentuate the effect while a steel awning
along the front and east side of the building, will provide shelter
for pedestrians and lend a distinctively modern touch.
interior will be open concept and very bright thanks to 15' ceilings
and all those big windows. The site of the demolished building is
being converted into 23 parking spaces.
east wall presented a special challenge to the owners and construction
crew since it was a party wall; the brick was just infill. Months
of work have gone into rebuilding this side as a solid outside wall.
it would have been marvelous if the new owners had chosen to restore
the building to its original appearance, various factors convinced
them to opt for a newer design. For example, attempting to duplicate
the original brickwork that surrounded the old windows (sliced off
when the siding was installed) would have been prohibitive due to
today's labor costs. And, the exposure of the party wall, as a result
of the demolition of the old Bernhardt Building, allowed the architects
an opportunity to install windows where none ever existed.
really matters of course, is that an old building that has spent
its most recent years as an abandoned eye sore in Walkerville's
shopping district, will not only get a second chance, but will add
immeasurably to the continued revitalization of the area.
to the new owners and, good luck!