This week the residents of St. Paul Avenue are going to have a block bbq. It's been a rather unpleasant few months on the street after a December 28, 2011 fire destroyed four storey building and left the street in a mess for months.
I have touched on St. Paul's history in some previous posts but thought that I would pull it all together in one place !
The early history of St. Paul Avenue follows the early history of Burnell Street. Part of the Parish of St. James, it became part of the city in 1882. The area remained fields and pasture land for the next 25 years.
Heimskringla, June 7, 1906
Around 1904 the land began to be subdivided for eventual residential development and a man named Thossteinn Oddson bought up large sections along Burnell and St. Paul. The Icelandic-born developer was looking at building his own, small suburb. Over the course of a decade he built six small, multiple-unit residential buildings and even an Icelandic church on these two streets.
The first newspaper mention of a St. Paul Avenue can be found in 1905 though it was nothing more than a lane way to get from Arlington to Burnell Street. It wasn't until 1909 that the city announced that sewer and water would be installed. A sidewalk came in 1911.
As soon as sewer and water arrived, Oddson jumped into action.
June 1930 adThe first building that Oddson built was St. Paul Terrace at 801 - 811 St. Paul Avenue. It was an eight unit, terraced complex. It was renovated in 1930 and reopened as Vimy Court.
October 1917 adOddson then went on to build the "triplets" Komoka (817) , Kelona (819) and Kolbrun (821) at a cost of $40,000 each. Construction began in 1911 and by November people were living at 817 and 819. The Kolbrun began renting in January 1912.
Catering to working class families, each suite was about 600 square feet and located just a few steps from the factories springing up along Burnell Street.
For the first couple of decades the south side of St. Paul Avenue was likely the side lots of buildings facing Burnell and Arlington. In the late 1920s the contractor Wallace and Akins bought the properties along the south side for redevelopment.
In 1929 they took out a permit to construct the townhouses at 796, 798, 800, 802, 804, 806, 808 St. Paul Avenue. The following year they took a permit to build the adjoining ones at 348, 350, 352 Arlington Street. Advertising for these units does not seem to start until 1933. Perhaps the stock market crash delayed construction.
Another Wallace and Akins development that did begin advertising in 1930 were the row of bungalows at 814 - 824 St. Paul Avenue. Each unit consists of 4 rooms and just 500 sq ft.
St. Paul Avenue (top) ca. 1957
St. Paul Avenue continued on without major incident for the next few decades.
The St. Paul Terrace (renamed Vimy Court in 1930) was demolished around 1972. A 1976 plan to demolish the townhouses at Arlington and St. Paul for an eight storey building did not materialize.
Through the 80s and 90s, a downward spiral of rental property in the area would take its toll.
After decades of neglect, the triplets hit rock bottom in 2006. They were declared insanitary by the city health department and boarded up. They remained that way for two years giving the street an eerie, unfriendly look.
Between 2008 and 2010 the triplets were renovated one by one - gutted to the brick walls and rebuilt. The two buildings to the east had their floor plans altered, combining the two suites on each side of the building into one, 1150 square foot suite.
The three buildings went back onto the market as condominiums.
Another building that received a major renovation during that same time were the bunglows. They continue to be rental units.
Sadly, on December 28, 2011 one of the triplets, the Komoka at 817 St. Paul Avenue, burned down just a few days before the centenary of its opening. The cause was never determined.
My photo album of St. Paul Avenue
My series on the history of Burnell Street and St. Paul:
Photos: My photo album of Burnell Street