Saturday, 6 August 2011

Times Building - 1888

“Last evening, the new building of the Times Printing Company was decked with flags and flowers and thronged with the youth, beauty and innocence of the town, preparatory to being turned over to the use of devils and devoted to ways that are inky. (To prevent possible misunderstanding it may be necessary to explain that the latter part of the above sentence refers exclusively to the small and smutty urchins who run printing offices, bully reporters, patronize editors and set all creation at defiance.”
                   “A Housewarming”
                     Spectator. April 3, 1888.
          The formal opening of the Times Printing Company's new building, situated on the southwest corner of Hughson and King William streets in downtown Hamilton, was the occasion for a celebratory supper and dance.
          The new, red brick building, the design of Hamilton architect William Stewart, was three stories in height, with a 12 foot basement, the ceiling of which was some four feet above the level of the sidewalk:
          “The external appearance of the building is massive and bold in its treatment. It is well-proportioned, and presents a fine specimen of street architecture. It is surmounted with a pleasing design of galvanized cornice work, painted and sanded in imitation of Ohio freestone. Standing twenty-eight feet above the main roof is a flagstaff, surmounted with gold gilt mouldings and a gold gilt iron ball. Inside of this ball were placed by the acrchitect written upon vellum paper, a full list of the proprietors of the Times, the staff of the paper and other employees of the company, a list of the contractors for the building, including the name of the architect, also a copy of the daily and weekly Times and Spectator.”
          “Evening Times : Ready to Move into New Quarters”
             Evening Times. April 3, 1888.
          The ground floor window and the basement windows facing King William and Hughson streets were highly attractive, made of plate glass with wheel-cut ornamentation emblematic of Canada. Handsome gold-finished signs decorated the front of the building in provisions for the signs which had been included in the architect's overall design.
          The main entrance to the Times building was at the corner of Hughson and King William streets. This entrance led into hall, which opened to a newsboys' waiting room, mail room, bookkeepers' room, manager's room and wash room for the company's employees.
          Beyond the entrance hall, through two folding doors, was a large room, over 900 square feet in area, used as a general office:
          “The general office is handsomely finished in natural woods, varnished and polished and presents a very fine and cheerful appearance.  The ceiling of the general office is handsomely and heavily paneled and molded in stucco work, being divided off into ten separate panels. A neat and handsome counter extends the whole length of this room and is surmounted with a neat and ornamental brass and enriched plate glass railing, got up in the highest style of the art.” (Times)
          In the basement, the press room, boiler and engine room, coal vaults and ash pits were situated. Well-lighted and ventilated, the basement ran the whole length of the building.
          The second floor of the Times building contained the job room, while the news room was on the third floor. Also on the third floor were the reporters' and proof readers' rooms, several editorial rooms and wash rooms.
          Access to all floors was via steam elevator. Verbal communication throughout the building was possible via silver-mounted speaking tubes:
          “The Times Printing Company have not spared any expense in making this building as complete as possible for their own special business and for the general comfort and health of their employees, and the building, inside and outside, certainly reflects great credit upon all parties in connection with its erection.”
          Just before 8 p.m., Monday, April 2, 1888, lights were first turned on in the new Times building in anticipation of the arrival of those invited to the special grand opening supper and fancy dress ball:
          “The effect of a brilliant illumination with gas upon the colored decorations was marvelous. The whole of the second floor, with the exception of the ample dressing room for ladies, was devoted to the ball. Skillful fingers had made and willing hands had hung an abundance of flowers among the flags and bunting, which were displayed to the very best advantage.” (Times April 3, 1888)
          The decorations had transformed the second floor of the
 new Times building into a festive area for dancing. The unfurnished rooms with bare white walls had been covered with decorative touches :
           “Upon the walls hung the flags of great nations. Prominent, of course, was the Union Jack of Old England, with the Stars and Stripes of the United States, the German flag and many others draped and almost covering the walls. Small flags were set where they would look the prettiest. From the walls to the rows of pillars, bunting of every color was hung in festoons, looped up here and there with bunches of beautiful roses, peonies, poppies and wreathes of flowers. Overall were the rays of mellow light from the clusters of gas jets. The finest decorations of the ball-room were the company. A better-looking and better-dressed party of ladies and gentlemen have not been seen at any of the balls of the season.”
          Over 400 people danced throughout the evening to music supplied by J. B. Nelligan, beginning with the Grand March at 9:15 o'clock.
          While the second floor of the new Times Building was devoted to dancing, the third floor had been fitted up for the supper, catered by Newport:
          “Tables sufficient to accommodate 200 people were spread in the large room on the third floor. The walls and ceiling of the room were as white as snow, as were the table covers. The table decorations consisted of large, hot house plants and cut flowers which, with the elegant glass and silver ware and pyramids of Charlotte Russe jellies and other articles of the caterer's handiwork, made a scene that could not well be improved upon.”
          Also on the third floor, three rooms were set aside for euchre and other games, and each was occupied throughout the evening:
          “It was pleasant to leave the ball room for a few minutes, have a game of cards, and then return to the merry dance, to be succeeded by other sets at the euchre tables. Some played checkers, others dominoes; no one sat still for any length of time – it wasn't that sort of a ball – everyone was too full of enjoyment to be quiet.”
          The ceremonial opening of the Times Printing Company's grand new building  with a fancy dress ball and supper was deemed to be a grand success. The clock was nearly 3:45 a.m. When Nelligan's  band struck up “God Save the Queen” to announce the end of the festivities. The thoroughly satisfied, if tired, crowd then began to disperse.
          The following day, the Times editor, H. F. Gardiner, wrote a lengthy editorial, which appeared inder the headline, “Out of the Old Home Into the New'” in which he discussed the role of the Times in Hamilton:
          “The Times is a successful newspaper today because no pains of expense are spared to keep its readers informed of everything of importance that happens, whether at home or abroad, at the earliest possible moment. It discusses public topics fearlessly, and in the interests of the people as a whole. It presents the news of the city in an attractive form, and its local and foreign commercial intelligence can always be relied on. For these reasons, it enjoys the confidence of the advertising public, and in consequence of a steady pursuit of this policy, it is today in a position to congratulate itself and its patrons on having formally taken possession of its new commodious building. The old structure was good enough while the business of the institution was in comparative childhood, but it as been evident for a long time that the ever-increasing business of the Times Printing Company demanded more space. That room has been obtained in the handsome new structure now nearly completed. It has been the desire of the proprietors to provide such a building as will enable them in future to still more efficiently serve their patrons than they have been able to do in the past, while at the same time affording increased comfort to their employees. In this they have succeeded beyond a peradventure as the large number of citizens who are familiar with the old place of business and who have inspected the new can testify”
                   “Out of Old Home Into the New”
                       Evening Times. April 3, 1888.

No comments:

Post a Comment