Stovel Block gets historic designation, restoration grant

A century-old building in the Quarters neighbourhood has earned historic designation and is set for a full restoration. 

The Stovel Block, an Edwardian style commercial building at 10327 97th St., has been classified as a municipal historic resource, the city announced in a news release Tuesday.

The Heritage Resources Reserve will provide more than $645,000 in grant funding to assist in the rehabilitation of building’s historical elements, including an arched parapet that once graced the roof.

A full restoration of the property is expected to cost more than $1,356,000.

The remaining cost of construction will be covered by the owner, Gather Co.

The company — which also owners Mercer Warehouse and Jasper 104 — formally bought the property from the city on Oct. 4.

‘Rare example’ 

“The Stovel Block is a somewhat rare example of commercial architecture in the Edwardian style,” said David Johnston, principal heritage planner with the city. “It’s tied to the early entrepreneurs who made their mark on Edmonton in the early 20th century.

“The building has been an important part of The Quarters neighbourhood for over 100 years.”

The property, with two distinct but related structures made of brick, was developed between 1910 and 1912.

The building is valued for its association with the Stovel family, who were active in Edmonton’s commercial industry in the early 1900s. 

James Stovel was one of the first hardware merchants in Edmonton. His wife, Mary Stovel, supervised the construction of the Stovel Block and later managed its tenants.

“Edmonton’s early commercial district was located along Jasper Avenue and 97th Street,” the city said on a document about the designation.

“The location of the Stovel Block at 97th Street and 103A Avenue was in the centre of a bustling Edmonton at the time, during the boom years before the outbreak of the First World War.” 

The building first housed a Royal Bank of Canada and Aitken & Fulton, a retailer of “men’s furnishings.”

No architect appears to have been involved in its construction, according to a planning document from the city’s heritage planners.  

“Typical of the real estate and building boom in Edmonton leading up to the First World War, commercial buildings often expressed a vernacular architecture, being constructed by local contractors or family members, who were often doing that work outside of their normal day-to-day activities. 

“The Stovel Block was no exception.” 

In all, 158 properties have been designated as legally protected since the city’s historic resource management plan was launched in 1985.

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