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Bells Welding Building

Lethbridge

Other Names:
Mocha Cabana

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Bell’s Welding is a single storey structure with a Spanish colonial façade and a barrel vault roof. It is located on a busy street in downtown Lethbridge and occupies a single city lot.

Heritage Value
The Bell’s Welding building is significant due to its poured in situ concrete construction and Spanish style.


The Bell’s Welding building is significant due to its concrete construction. In 1930 Arthur Bell purchased the lot in order to build a blacksmith and farrier shop. He built the 25 X 75 ft shop out of concrete to prevent fire. Construction commenced in April when the footings were dug and the concrete poured. Wooden forms were used to support the walls and roof while the concrete was poured. Mr. Bell made beams with reinforced rods recycled from the old St. Mary’s bridge. Each of these rods is1.75 inches in diameter with a 3 inch eye on each end. Eight inch thick walls 10 feet tall were poured in one day comprising 110 yards of concrete. The concrete was mixed on site and hauled by wheelbarrows each holding 3 cubic feet. All the sand and gravel was shoveled by hand from the riverbank and hauled by horse and wagon up the coulee to the jobsite. The second pour formed the roof 4 inches thick and the remaining walls. 110 yards of concrete were used again in this pour. Lastly, the floor was poured using an additional 100 yards of concrete. The doors and windows were installed and the shop was opened for business July 1, 1930.


The Bell’s Welding building is also significant because of its Spanish and Art Modern styles. Elements of the Spanish style include the curved roofline and parapet.


Bell’s Welding remained in business on this site until 1980. It was then sold and the building renovated for use as a restaurant. It was renovated again in 2004 when Mocha Cabana opened.


Character-Defining Elements
Character Defining Elements


The character defining elements as expressed in the form, massing, and materials of the 1930 one-storey building, such as;


• Barrel vaulted roof and exposed beams


• In situ concrete pour


• Skylights


• Recessed signage panels


• Concrete boss


• Window openings flanking the main entrance


• Steel corner post guards at front door


Location



Street Address: 317 - 4 Street South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Plan 4353S, Block 31, Lot 32
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
21
8
31
13

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
4353S
31
32


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.6955629298992 -112.841787383649 Digital MAps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2011/03/21

Historical Information

Built: 1930/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder: Tom McNeel
Context: (Arthur Bell's Blacksmith Shop - 317 Smith Street)

In March of 1930 Arthur Bell purchased a lot to build his shop. The lot size was 62.5 ft x 120 ft. and he built his new shop 25 ft. x 75 ft. It was made out of concrete so it would not burn. Arthur contracted Tom McNeel to build the shop and George Mumby and three others to haul the sand and gravel for the building.

Construction started in April when the footings were dug and the concrete was poured. Shiplap forms were assembled for the entire building, and to support the roof while the concrete was being poured. There were so many posts that the inside looked like a forest. For extra support Arthur made ten trusses from rods recycled from the old St. Mary's bridge. Each of these rods was 1.75 inches in diameter and had a three-inch eye on each end. The day came to pour the concrete, they started early that morning to pour the 8-inch thick walls and by the end of the day they were 10 ft tall.

The amount of concrete poured that day was about 110 yards. The concrete was mixed in two big cement mixers on site. There were a thousand wheelbarrows of concrete in 110 yards, each holding 3 cubic feet. The next day it rained and gave the crew a rest, but it also slowed the curing of the concrete. The following day they poured the roof 4 inches thick and the remaining of the walls, again about 110 yards of concrete. After the concrete had set for about a week the forms were stripped off and cleaned up, then the floor was poured with about 100 yards of concrete, and then they installed the doors and windows. The new shop was moved into on July 1, 1930.

For one teamster to haul all of the sand and gravel at 1.5 yards per trip it would have taken 32 days making 7 round trips. Each trip was down to the river for the sand & gravel, where it was shoveled by hand from the riverbank, and back up the coulee to the jobsite.

As you enter our doors take yourself back 80 years ago where the sounds of the Farrier's hammer could be heard as he pounded and shaped the horseshoes for the horses standing in stalls that occupied the very front of the building. Now enjoy the smell of fresh baking, homemade soup, fresh ground blacksmith blend coffee and experience casual dining and live entertainment.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0284
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: http://www.mochacabana.ca/our-history.htm
Data Source: City of Lethbridge
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