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Hull Block


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Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Hull Block consists of a three-storey brick mixed-use building in the neo-classical style of the Edwardian-era, occupying two urban lots on a prominent corner location in downtown Edmonton. The provincial designation applies to the building's exterior envelope, main structural features and land.

Heritage Value
The historical significance of the Hull Block lies in its representation of the commercial growth of Edmonton during the early part of the twentieth century. It is the largest and most significant building in the historic Chinatown district and plays a critical role in the maintenance of the character of the streetscape.

The arrival of the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk railways in Edmonton by 1909 resulted in the development of a large warehouse and industrial district in the west end of downtown. Neighbourhoods like McCauley attracted working-class immigrants who wanted to be near centres of employment and in turn spawned small commercial districts, such as that on Namayo Avenue (97 Street) where the Hull Block is located. As a building designed to house small retail businesses and apartment dwellers, the Hull Block reflects this kind of commercial development oriented toward an urban neighbourhood.

The Hull Block is also significant as the only known building in Edmonton constructed by William Roper Hull, a prominent Calgary civic leader and entrepreneur.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2112)

Character-Defining Elements
The Edwardian-era architecture of the building is expressed in character-defining elements such as:
- form, scale and massing;
- solid brick exterior walls and brick facades on west and south elevations;
- cast stone sills, lintels, keystones, plain pilaster capitals and bases;
- parapet with two arched pediments and four projecting vertical pilasters along the west and south façades, with decorative balls topping pediments and pilasters;
- white, lime brick construction of the secondary facades;
- rehabilitated wood storefronts with recessed entrances, large display windows with transoms and basement windows, tiled and marble fronted entranceways;
- two rows of regularly spaced, wood double-hung windows at the second and third storeys;
- upper pressed-metal cornice with dentils extending the full width of the two corner facades and lower pressed metal cornices that define the storefronts;
- pressed-metal peaked pediment over the main floor entrance doors;
- restored eleven (11) metre flagpole;
-facade of the original boiler now a decorative feature;
- prominent corner location.


Street Address: 10601 - 97 Street NW
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Lots 27 and 28, Block 19, Plan D
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
12 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.550467 -113.488398 Secondary Source NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2003/07/21

Historical Information

Built: 1914 to 1915
Period of Significance: N/A
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building
Residence : Multiple Dwelling
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Residence : Multiple Dwelling
Architect: E.C. Hopkins

With the turn of the 20th century, Edmonton was beginning a period of rapid development, initiated mainly by its position as the commercial gateway to northwestern Canada. In 1904, Edmonton became a city, and, in 1905, two other events occurred which would solidify its position as a metropolis. First, the city was named the capital of the new province of Alberta, and, second, just as the first Legislative Assembly was convening in September, the tracks of the Canadian Northern Railway were being laid, giving the city a direct line to Winnipeg and the markets of eastern Canada. Four years later, the Canadian Northern was joined by the Grand Trunk Pacific, with a line through the city's north end and a spur to the city center.

The arrival of these railways brought dramatic change to the city center. In the west end, a large warehouse district evolved. The north side also saw extensive development as many large industries chose to locate plants and warehouses near the tracks. The railways and the industries they spawned brought masses of working class immigrants to Edmonton, most of whom chose to live in neighbourhoods near their centers of employment, such as McCauley, Norwood, Riverdale and Bellevue. As a result, small community commercial areas sprang up to provide easy shopping for residents, and facilitate local businesses. Being close to the city center, the McCauley district had little need for a separate shopping district, and yet there remained an inclination for many small businesses to locate as close to the people as possible. As a result, Namayo Avenue (97th Street) was soon developed into a commercial artery, extending from Jasper Avenue all the way to 111th Avenue, with sections of the street also holding small dwellings. North of the tracks, the street soon assumed the appearance of a small community shopping district, with grocery stores, drug stores, hardware stores, restaurants, barber shops, laundries and convenience stores predominating over the years. The shops were mostly modest two-storey structures, and often the proprietors would live in the same buildings.

In June 1914, when the commercial boom in Edmonton had actually just passed its apex, a headline in the Edmonton Bulletin read 'New 35,000 [dollar] Block for Namayo Avenue.' The owner of the property on the corner of Namayo Avenue and Sutherland Street (9664-106th Avenue) was the Calgary business tycoon, William Roper Hull, who apparently saw the need for an office complex in the area. As designed by E.C. Hopkins and opened the following year, the building was no doubt expected to facilitate small retail businesses and apartment dwellers, as well as office space. The concept of the combined facility was not unlike the Buena Vista Apartments and the Gibbard Block recently erected among small commercial buildings in other areas of the city that were surrounded by extensive urban development.

Among the first tenants in what became known as the Hull Block was Herb E. Thomson Drugs, which would occupy the premises until 1940. Countless other tenants also came to occupy the building.


The historical significance of the Hull Block lies in its representation of the tremendous commercial growth of downtown Edmonton during the early part of the 20th century. It is also representative of the kind of commercial structure intended to evoke the ethos of a large office complex, but, due to its location near an urban population, also made to facilitate small retail businesses and apartment dwellers. It is also a significant landmark in the McCauley district of Edmonton.

(Historical Interest Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0843
Designation File: DES 2112
Related Listing(s): 4664-0114
Heritage Survey File: HS 59159
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2112)
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