Dawson Hardware Building in Charlottetown gets new life

A historic building on the corner of University and Kent Streets in Charlottetown is one step closer to restoration.

Landmark 130-year-old Dawson Hardware Building stands at the corner of University Avenue and Kent Street

Architects Chris and Brenda Tweel are restoring the 130-year-old Dawson Hardware Building in downtown Charlottetown. (CBC)

A historic building on the corner of University and Kent streets in Charlottetown is one step closer to restoration.

Protective tarps came down Thursday on the 130-year-old Dawson Hardware Building.

Today was like unwrapping a Christmas present.- Architect, Chris Tweel

Architects Chris and Brenda Tweel, who have been restoring the structure all winter, have been waiting a long time to see it unveiled.

"It's amazing," said Chris.

"I always think I know what my work's going to look like after all the planning we do, but today was like unwrapping a Christmas present. It was a great surprise and I'm thrilled."

The building, which was constructed in the 1880s, was originally a hardware store and warehouse.

Inside, beams of Island spruce and hemlock testify to the building's heritage.

Tweel imported 16,000 red clay bricks from England to repair the exterior.

"It kind of integrates the historic block down the street by Province House into this corner and along with the Starbucks building," said Tweel.

"Hopefully, that will generate more growth and redevelopment and give some civic pride to the intersection."

The Dawson Hardware Building is part of a larger restoration project involving adjacent buildings. (CBC)

Tweel says this is the cornerstone of a larger restoration project. Work is already underway to restore adjacent buildings on Great George and Kent streets.

For decades, the Dawson Hardware Building lay hidden beneath stucco and steel, the result of modernization in the 1970s.  

"We're a historic city, so any time you get to restore a significant building like this, it's just a real win-win for everybody — our business community, our city as a whole," said Ron Atkinson, economic development officer for the city.

Crews still have plenty of work to do.

It remains to be seen who rent the ground floor and a local law firm is taking the upper three storeys.

Tweel says the building should be ready for use by February 2016.


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