Friday, February 12, 2010

Town Hall and Post Office....Court and Red River Road Port Arthur....Then and Now!

Port Arthur's original Town Hall built in 1880 was basically a multipurpose facility used by the Masons who eventually owned the building in 1897. It was also an entertainment space as shown by the second photo taken in 1903 used by traveling performance groups and early cinema as well as a meeting place for churches, school trustees and community dances. The Freemasons housed their facilities on the main floor along with the Anglican Church and the Presbyterians on the bottom floor. The groups that used this building were largely cooperative however, on occasion, the Freemasons' rituals were reportedly a little disruptive.
Where was it? Next....

The Town Hall/Masonic Lodge was located just west of the present day Court Street on Red River Road(formerly Arthur St). The Masonic Lodge is still located at this site to this very day. The map photo to the right shows the masonic hall in downtown Port Arthur around the turn of the last century. It is near the bottom right of the photo with Arthur Street along the bottom and Court vertically along the right side. The present day site still houses the Masonic Hall as well as Bonin-Dobie-Jackson, Perfect Fit, Allard Designs, and Money Mart in the same newer building.
In the above photo the Town Hall is in ruins after the fire of 1907, however in the distance you can see the Post Office building which we will talk about a little further down. Disregard the statement at the end of the map regarding "Key to Symbols".

A little closer to Court Street and next to the original town hall location back in the 1960's was the popular Fero's Restaurant(with a cool Brill Trolley bus in front) and Birk's Stitt Jewelers on the corner. The present day area looks like this now with Money Mart and the BMO bank to take their place.
This is how that whole block looks today....Its hard to believe the transformation through the years. NEXT....the Port Arthur Post Office.
This imposing stone building(Post Office) with its distinctive classical arches was built at the north east corner of Court Street and Red River Road(again formerly Arthur St.) in 1892, and can be seen in the above Town Hall fire photo further down the street. The second photo of the same building taken in the early 1930's(see those jalopies). The distinctive tower to the left of the second photo here is the Fire Hall tower, which still exists today along with the old Fire Station building.
Finally here is a 1950 photo of the Post Office on Court and Red River Road which was one of the town's largest most impressive structure for many years. The new building constructed in 1955 following the demolition of the Post Office(We sure demolish wonderful structures in this town) on the Post Office site was the former SS Kresge Limited. It then became Playtime Lanes(a bowling alley) and is now Eekos Modern Furniture store....and there is the Fire Hall tower still there to this day....Its nice that a few buildings are preserved.
Its hard to believe that only 68 years separates the construction of these two buildings, but they look centuries apart in construction design. No boredom in old architecture, that's for sure!
Click on all photos on this post to enlarge!

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