Westinghouse HQ is a beautiful heritage building with deep roots in the Hamilton community and its industrial history. Sitting at the corner of Westinghouse Avenue, in the Barton Village neighborhood, the Canadian Westinghouse Company drove a boom in the economy and provided work for thousands of Hamiltonians.
This building represents much more than just another redevelopment project, but is a symbol of the renewed energy and vitality of Hamilton’s present and anticipated future. Today, Ray Hutton and Meir Dick are building on that tradition by restoring the building that was once one of Hamilton’s central institutions for employment and industrial activities. Local firm, mcCallumSather, are completing architectural, mechanical and heritage consultancy for the project. Westinghouse HQ offers over 40,000 SQ FT of office space and 10,000 SQ FT of retail space in a one-of-a-kind historic Hamilton landmark, opening fall 2018.
Looking Back: The Legacy of Westinghouse HQ
Before we can look forward and continue the story of Westinghouse HQ, we look back and pay tribute to the legacy that has gone before. We have the privilege of building on over 100 years of history as the story continues in 2018.
Westinghouse HQ is named after the visionary leader, scientist and inventor, George Westinghouse. George started his company, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, in 1869 at the age of 23 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He revolutionized the electrical industry and was in direct competition with fellow inventor Thomas Edison.
Having completed the Niagara Falls Electric generation project, George Westinghouse saw potential and founded the Canadian branch of his company. Established in 1903, the Hamilton branch of the Canadian Westinghouse Company Ltd was the first site of the company outside of the United States. In the first years of operation, workers helped supply 9000 airbrake sets a year to the expanding Canadian railroad industry. At its peak in 1955, Westinghouse employed 11,000 people in Hamilton.
Once George Westinghouse founded the Hamilton branch, Paul Judson Myler, originally from Pittsburgh, became the general manager and then president of the Canadian Westinghouse Company in 1917. It’s only fitting that Myler would have one of the streets surrounding the building named after him in 1910, which still exists today.
By 1917, the company had outgrown its office space in Hamilton and executives decided to build a new head office. The new location was built across the street from the factory and included a bridge for easy movement between the office and the manufacturing buildings. A beautiful five-storey office building was designed by Prack & Perrine, local architects who were responsible for many architectural gems in Hamilton including the Pigott Building on James Street S. and Lister Building on James Street N. The building’s structure combines a reinforced concrete and structural steel frame with an ornate and historically significant brick and cut-stone facade. In 1928 two additional floors were added to the head office to respond to the company’s evolving needs and continued growth.
The Canadian Westinghouse Company manufactured a variety of electrical based products in Hamilton. Over the years, with the highs and lows of economic uncertainty, the company found ways of breaking into a variety of markets to keep profits up and employment consistent. The Westinghouse appliance tagline promoted its company reputation of trust and quality, “You can be SURE… if it’s Westinghouse.” People today can still remember Westinghouse televisions, radios and other appliances that they grew up with decades ago.
Looking Forward: Continuing the Story
The seven story Westinghouse HQ building is the only structure left of the sprawling 18 acres of real estate that once housed the Canadian Westinghouse Company. People who regularly encounter this building remember what it once was and have dreamt about what it might become. Having sat empty for 30 years, many have wondered about the next chapter and lasting legacy for this building.
As the building gets a new lease on life, creating meaningful connections to Westinghouse HQ’s history has continued to drive the design. The development team, understanding the building’s rich history and subsequent impact on families over the past 100 years, have used photographs and restored original details and materials to communicate the ongoing narrative of how this space has and continues to find significance to Hamiltonians.
Continue to follow our journey as we carry on the tradition and story of Hamilton’s Westinghouse HQ for a new generation.
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Sources: Manners, Sandy. Westinghouse/Siemens Westinghouse: 100 Years in Canada, 2003.