1909 Boyle Street Building Being Restored
Edmonton Iron Works will have another chapter in its long history.
Restoration is well underway on one of Edmonton’s oldest buildings, a 1909 industrial site called Edmonton Iron Works. This structure, located on the east side of 96th Street north of 104th Avenue, is interesting for a number of reasons.
First, it is the place where Edmonton Iron Works manufactured materials to construct a very new and rapidly growing city. As well, it was not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing, with its brick façade and large windows. And, it is one of a small number of historic sites left in the Boyle Street area, the original location of Edmonton’s city centre.
The City of Edmonton now owns Edmonton Iron Works and is continuing rehabilitation work on the foundation and significant portions of the building structure – what Principal Heritage Planner David Johnston calls “the really scary stuff.”
“Current tasks include restoring exterior walls, installing new floors, addressing a range of structural repairs, and preparing the space for new uses,” Johnston says. The project is challenging, he adds, since “rough and tumble” heavy industry can result in a lot of wear and tear.
The building’s location is near what was then a railway that facilitated shipping and receiving. After Edmonton Iron Works shut down its business in 1927, various other industrial companies were located there. But by 2016 the building had been empty for a number of years and the owner had applied to demolish it. The structure was on the City’s Inventory of Historic Resources, but this listing did not give the City any power to stop demolition.
“Alberta Culture headed off the process by ordering the property owner to provide a historic assessment,” Johnston says. The owner then sold the property, and the City of Edmonton made an unusual and rare decision to buy it.
Plans are for the space to be available for tenants by 2024. The Edmonton Arts Council has already committed to moving in when work is completed.
Work is also proceeding on the 1950s annex on the north side of the Edmonton Iron Works Building, which the City also owns (along with an annex on the south side, which is on hold for the moment). These areas will be renovated as opposed to the restoration techniques required for the central historic section.
“The restoration of the Iron Works could be a catalyst for the Quarters area,” Johnston says.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.