Crawford Block

This straightforward Edwardian retail and apartment building had only three owners for the first 90 years or more of its existence.

Born in Bramford, Ontario in 1878, Herbert Howard Crawford came west and worked as an auctioneer like his own father in 1898 or 1900. He married Emily Crow in 1906 and together they had five children. In conjunction with his auctioneering business, Crawford made and sold tents, awnings, and mattresses. Requiring more space for his business, he designed a building in a simple Edwardian commercial style and had it constructed in 1912 on First Street East (103 Street), just off Whyte Avenue. The retail area was on the main floor behind large paned transom windows; Crawford’s auctioneering office was next door to the north. Within a year Crawford has already expanded the first floor by 6,000 square feet and added a large basement.

The building is typical of other local Edwardian commercial structures of its time, but there are few of its kind remaining in the city. The three-storey red-brick clad rectangular building has a flat roof with a contrasting triangular pediment centrally located within a cast concrete parapet. Brick corbelling below the parapet highlights the twelve paired assembly windows on the east façade, with six bays separated by defined pilasters. Similarly coarse textured cast stone blocks adjoining the retail windows augment the central recessed entryway.

While his business was taking off, Crawford became successful as a provincial politician, notably and unexpectedly defeating former Premier Alexander Cameron Rutherford by a large margin in 1913, then being re-elected in 1917. When he moved his tent making business to a frontage on Whyte Avenue and 101 Street, Freads Chocolates moved into the Crawford Block. After a while it became home to the Farmers’ Supply Co-operative. In 1935, eleven years before Crawford died, Nathan Sigel bought the building and opened Strathcona Furniture. He and his family ran the business for 61 years, over three generations. This mainstay business in Strathcona closed in 1996. Dave and Jeong-Ae Lalonde purchased the Crawford Block and spent upwards of $400,000 restoring the old building. When they renovated the upper suites they found original ornate tin ceilings, front facing windows, and original brick behind 1960s paneling. They also uncovered the original, hand-painted signs underneath the exterior awnings. In 2016, the apartment block was expanded with an additional five-storeys in order to hold forty apartment units, each around 400 square feet, an intriguing micro-living concept that caught on in a certain segment of Edmonton society.

Details

Type

Commercial

Designation Status

Municipal Historic Resource

Neighbourhood

TBD

Year Built

1912

Architects

TBD

Architectural Styles

Edwardian

Character Defining Elements

Corbelling , Wooden windows , Double hung windows , Sills , Brick cladding , Lintel , Recessed Entry , Rectangular footprint , Pilaster , Parapet , Pediment , Flat roof , Three storeys or more

Gallery

Subscribe to our newsletter