Weathered & worn Thematic is still very much on. Here.
I grew up in Montreal, a city that for decades seemed content to let its architectural legacy slip invisibly into oblivion. Thanks largely to civic leadership that seemed hell bent on paving over the past in a relentless pursuit of a supposedly more efficient future, entire neighborhoods were razed with barely a thought about what was being lost in the process.
London isn't quite on that level. Yet. Developers here aren't joined at the hip with city councillors. We lack that deliberate middle finger attitude toward preserving history. But that doesn't mean we don't have a problem.
It's more one of benign neglect, of hoping a lovely old building will somehow rescue itself after the original owners move on and aren't replaced. There's no active intervention, no marketing, no community discussion, no leadership. Instead, gems like the McCormick Biscuit Factory above are left to rot until it's far too late to redeem them. The list of buildings lost in this way in recent years continues to grow as the rest of London pretends they don't exist.
This building turns 100 next year, and was once known as the Sunshine Palace thanks to the glass block and terra cotta that define its exterior envelope. It closed for good four years ago after the latest owners, Beta Brands, pulled the plug, and has been deteriorating ever since. I stopped by there on the way back from a meeting this week, and couldn't shake the feeling of sadness as I slowly walked around the property. Or the stench of squatters responsible for much of the damage.
Other cities seem to care more. They make it easier for developers to buy up industrial relics and convert them into vibrant residential anchors. They realize how important these places can be in the fabric of cities that stand out, that don't just look like yet another endless stretch of suburbia. The ingredients are all here: It simply takes a bit of will to change the future.
Your turn: What three words come to mind when you see buildings like this?
- London Community News. $45m future for McCormick Factory
- London Free Press. Plan to sell cookie factory crumbles
- Western Libraries. Business and History - McCormick's Limited
- UWO Reporter. Memories linger as plans progress