History InSite: 23-25 St. Paul Street, 2477-N

Prendergast Block, c. 1907. STCM 2477-N

One of the first buildings from the Second Canal era to be demolished was the Prendergast Block on St. Paul Street. When it was built, it was a modern innovation of office and retail space, most famously housing the James D. Tait Dry Goods Company.

Built in the 1850s by William Hamilton Merritt Jr. and named for his mother’s family, the demolition of this building was just as significant as the building itself. Seen as the beginning of the post-war Second World War redevelopment of downtown, the building was torn down in 1949. It was the first major real estate development in the downtown in over 20 years and was hailed as such. The beginning of the end of a now highly romanticized era of industry and business.

1913 Fire Insurance Plans pages 11 and 12 spliced together to show St. Paul Street at William Street. STCM 1972.31.1.7A & B.

The Business District

St. Paul Street has long been the commercial hub of the City. Take a look at this fire insurance plan from 1913, which details the uses of the buildings in this stretch of the street. It’s fascinating to imagine the bustling activity depicted on the map this way.

There’s More to the Story

Check out the entire History InSite installation and find the other panels.

About History InSite

A permanent, site specific installation, History InSite juxtaposes historical photographs with modern streetscapes by presenting the photo in, or close to, the place which it was taken.

St. Catharines has a rich photographic history and when compared to the changing streetscapes around the City, that history becomes much more meaningful, poignant, and relevant to our modern eyes.

History InSite is presented by the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre.

Graffiti Report

If you spot any graffiti on our purple History InSite signs, please send us a message and photo via email museum@stcatharines.ca.