Now, for a limited time only, you can see both the beauty and the beast on King Street East.

The beast looms large, not far from Gage Avenue. It is the hulking concrete carcass of Scott Park Secondary. The school board put it up in 1966, a windowless monument to brutalist architecture that was to hold 1,500 students.

By the year 2000, enrolment was less than half that. And the board said the school needed $15 million in repairs. They closed it down the next year, finally sold it for $650,000 and ghosts have been running the place ever since.

I once talked to a retired educational assistant who lived near the school. She’d been inside a few times, but was thankful she never had to work there.


It's windowless, airless and ugly and soon it may be torn down. But a treat awaits once you get past the old Scott Park Secondary. (Paul Wilson/ CBC)

"It’s dark, airless, a behemoth. I don’t know who approved it," she said. "Bring it down. It’s a blight."

That might happen. There’s talk the board wants the property back for a new high school. There will be no rallies to save the history of Scott Park.

The view was always Ivor Wynne

So just scurry past. But the moment you’ve cleared that big dark shadow, turn your head right. For as long as any of us can remember, the view across those ball diamonds was filled by the south stands of Ivor Wynne.

You’ll know that it’s now all been knocked down. The earth is freshly scraped, a new stadium is set to rise.


A fence went up around St. Vlad's on Barton East, but the services carry on. At this address, they're still waiting for Easter. (Paul Wilson/ CBC)

But for a short and precious time, from King you can gaze right across to Barton, to a structure as beautiful as Scott Park is beastly.

That would be the gold-topped Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Vladimir. On a sunny day, it bounces light right back up to heaven.

After that quick sighting, what you really should do is hang a right off King and see this luscious landmark up close.

The neighbourhood's changed

The church bought the land at 855 Barton East and started construction in the late 1940s. By the summer of 1954, it was done.

Barton Street was still prosperous then. But now the church is a rose amongst the thorns.

One door to the east, a payday loan store in a building where McDonalds pulled out. One door to the west, an abandoned Blockbuster. Across the street, a scrubby field with a sign that promises new retail will be built here in the spring of 2007. And directly behind the church, the scarred silos of what was once the Consumers Glass factory.

They put an iron fence around the church 25 years ago, and who could blame them? But still they gather, with vigour. At an Orthodox service, you stand a lot and you sing a lot.


The big wall in the parking lot of the failed Blockbuster store can't shut out the shine of the St. Vladimir's gold. (Paul Wilson/ CBC)

And they still raise money here with perogy and cabbage roll sales at the end of each month. A good meal for sure, unless you’ve given up such delicacies for Lent.

They’re still in the midst of that at this address. The Orthodox version of Easter Sunday doesn’t roll around this time until May 5. In the last 30 years, it’s only been that late once.

But to most of Hamilton, what’s really unusual at St. Vlad’s is all that gold on the roof. Opinions vary, but many believe the glittery onion-shaped domes symbolize burning candles.

Some churches have just three – for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But St. Vlad’s has five – a large one in the centre for Jesus, and smaller gold domes around it for the Four Evangelists.

They were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, four known for spreading the good news. For this day only, feel free to consider me a fifth.

Read more CBC Hamilton stories by Paul Wilson here.