Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

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Andrew T.
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Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

Post by Andrew T. » 02 Sep 2019 18:33

This is 1154 Hamilton Rd., London, ON. This store operated as a Dominion supermarket from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, likely closing either at the time of the 1985 A&P sale or in the wave of "Mr. Grocer" spin-offs that happened a couple years before that:

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I'm a tad bit obsessed about this store.

First off, the building is in almost completely original condition, and has never been expanded. The 1950s modernist canopy is still intact, and so is the window work. A "Dominion" labelscar is even still visible on the south side.

Second off, there were others like it. Dominion301 has a 1957 opening shot of an nearly identical store on his Flickr page, location unknown:

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I'd think this was a picture of 1154 Hamilton Road if the frontage had 18 panes of glass instead of 21. Seriously, that's the only difference!

And that's not all. A third identical Dominion store with identical windows and canopy stood in Chatham, and there's a picture of it here. (I believe this was the store at 351 Richmond, and it no longer stands.)

Part of the fun of supermarket chain research is the thrill of finding similar or identical buildings in vastly dissimilar places, and that certainly holds true here. What other identical late '50s Dominions might be out there?
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

Post by Andrew T. » 03 Sep 2019 17:39

Late 1950s Dominion buildings have similarities that extend beyond frontal appearance alone:

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This is 477 Huron St. in Stratford, Ontario. This location housed a Dominion from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, later converting to Mr. Grocer and ultimately Giant Tiger, Canada's leading reoccupier of old supermarkets. The facade is far different from the stores upthread and the footprint is far larger, but only because the building was expanded ex post facto to twice its original size.
stratford.jpg
The side wall of the store is original, and features a long strip of glass block. The rear corner features a line of six windows and vents near the roofline, a rear staircase leading to a stockroom mezzanine, and a small canopy for the rear loading zone.
london.jpg
Remember 1154 Hamilton Road in London? Well, guess what...Its rear corner is exactly the same. Same strip of glass block, same six windows and vents, same staircase, same canopy, same loading door, same peculiar arrangement of HVAC components!

I was psyched when I discovered that these buildings were rearward twins. It proved that Dominion stores had a consistent layout and blueprint in the late 1950s...and more importantly, it gives us a distinctive "architectural hallmark" that we can use for positively identifying old supermarket buildings as Dominions!
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

Post by Groceteria » 03 Sep 2019 21:32

This is excellent. They're beautiful stores, too.

I'm wondering if this location on Broadview Avenue in Toronto, now a Loblaws, might have been a variant. The side has been painted, but the rear looks familiar. This one opened as Dominion in the late 1950s. It's one of my favorite Toronto stores.

Google Street View: https://goo.gl/maps/frMjybFVur4CN2TR8

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Re: Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

Post by Andrew T. » 03 Sep 2019 22:58

Groceteria wrote:
03 Sep 2019 21:32
This is excellent. They're beautiful stores, too.

I'm wondering if this location on Broadview Avenue in Toronto, now a Loblaws, might have been a variant. The side has been painted, but the rear looks familiar. This one opened as Dominion in the late 1950s. It's one of my favorite Toronto stores.

Google Street View: https://goo.gl/maps/frMjybFVur4CN2TR8
I think this store may have been built to a slightly different blueprint: The Street View gives high-resolution imagery of all four sides, and I don't see any traces of an upper stockroom door or the six window-vents. The front window configuration is similar to that of the stores upthread, however, and it's an amazing survivor in any case!

3975 Wyandotte St E in Windsor is yet another twist on the late '50s Dominion design. This one has four window-vents and the mezzanine door on the rear side. (The linked street view is from 2012; No Frills has since moved in and bricked the features over.)

Meanwhile, I found one more near-identical twin of the stores upthread: 6460 Lundy's Lane in Niagara Falls! Photo by David Gwynn:

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This has the same modernist canopy and same window configuration as the stores upthread, although the roofline seems a little lower. I can't tell if it has the six window-vents on the rear side, but it does have the strip of glass block...it's visible as a discoloured recess towards the left edge of the photo.

According to the Niagara Falls spreadsheet, it opened by 1960 (just like all the others!) and followed a Dominion > Mr. Grocer > No Frills trajectory.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

Post by Andrew T. » 11 Sep 2019 14:13

Here are two more examples of Dominion's consistent late-1950s store design, uncovered in the midst of research.

* 2210 LaSalle Blvd, Sudbury, ON. The building has been expanded and shorn of its original facade...but the rear canopy, mezzanine staircase, and characteristic six window-vents in the rear corner are all intact:
sudbury.jpg
* 770 Upper James Street, Hamilton, ON. This Dominion > Mr. Grocer > No Frills conversion has original front windows, the original modernist canopy (now topped with aluminum siding as a sign backing), strip of glass block on the side (now painted over), four out of six vent-windows on the upper rear side (two appear to have been bricked up and replaced by a doorway to nowhere), the characteristic rear mezzanine staircase, and the rear loading-zone canopy.

I wanted to photograph this store en route from Toronto yesterday...but I ended up cruising through Hamilton after dark had fallen, so it'll have to wait for another day. This store also opened by 1955, so this store design may be a little older than I thought.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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Re: Late '50s Dominions with identical architecture

Post by Andrew T. » 19 Sep 2019 01:09

I'm always happy whenever I can put a concrete date on a store...or a date on an entire store design, as the case is in this thread. So, here's the grand opening ad for the very store that led me down this wormhole: 1154 Hamilton Road in London, Ontario! It opened on August 15, 1957.
Attachments
dominion1.jpg
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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