Right now, you’re standing at the corner of James St. N. and Mulberry in Hamilton, Ontario. Now, here’s what has stood here before you.
The Armory Hotel
The majestic Victorian three-storey brick beauty at your feet began life in 1887 as the Armory Hotel, located to serve the hulking Hamilton Armoury still in use across the street. Construction on the Hamilton Armoury started in 1887 and the Armory Hotel served the armed forces stationed there.
Oh, u! The Canadian way to spell armoury is with a ‘u’. The hotel’s name is spelled without the ‘u’, but the Hamilton Armoury building across the street is spelled correctly.
The Hamilton Armoury was later renamed in honour of Honourary Lieutenant-Colonel John Weir Foote VC, CD, who took part in World War II’s Dieppe Raid in 1942. Throughout the eight-hour battle, Foote risked his life to carry wounded soldiers to safety. Then he deliberately became a prisoner of war so that he could help captured soldiers. They were held captive until May 5, 1945. For his heroic efforts, Foote received the prestigious Victoria Cross.
The New Armory Hotel
The housing crisis is nothing new — this 1922 article proclaims, “A good house at a reasonable cost is the greatest demand of the day.”
In 1921, hotelier George Case endeavoured to face the era’s housing crisis by buying and refurbishing the Armory Hotel.
When his reno was complete, the building boasted “every modern convenience” (think: accurate clocks and electric fixtures).
The New Armory Hotel was a handsomely furnished, clean, comfortable travellers’ resort.
The hotel’s 15 guest rooms were available at $1.50 a night (equivalent to about $24.83 today). That’s a deal considering the inn boasted an elegant golden oak bar, tile flooring, ornamental ceilings and stained glass windows.
The Drake Hotel
By the 1960s, the building was renamed the Drake Hotel and regularly advertised rooms by the day or week in the Hungarian Life newspaper.
The Drake then became Siesta Rooms, offering rooms by the day or week. The Siesta Rooms sign can still be found tucked away behind a door in a studio on-site.
According to CBC News, in 1986, “Rev. Ron went driving one night in his silver Lincoln. And there at the corner of James and Mulberry, he saw a For Sale sign on a place called Siesta Rooms.”
Ron Burridge, known as Rev. Ron, changed the business’ name to Hotel Hamilton and operated the property as a 22-room hotel from 1986 to 2006.
Beyond his activities as a hotelier, he was a controversial, charismatic Pentecostal minister who specialized in exorcisms and speaking in tongues.
“Once a hair colourist in Toronto, Burridge gained notoriety as a flamboyant, Bible-thumping landlord to the down and out,” according to CBC News.
The hotel rented rooms to single men for $400 per month and was considered a dive. He held church services — and conducted exorcisms — at the hotel.
“As a landlord, well, let’s just say he wasn’t winning many Trillium Awards. His nest was the old Hotel Hamilton on James North, not the kind of place that catered to tourists,” according to CBC News.
Rev. Ron sold the property in 2006. He met a tragic end in Mexico in 2013.
In 2009, the building was sold to four investors who undertook a careful and beautiful restoration of the historic space. “[It took] over six months of ripping down walls, putting up walls, tearing up the floor, exposing old treasures,” managing partner Ella Shepherd told Toque magazine. “[Partner Roger Abbiss] and I tried to keep the space as authentic as possible by incorporating the original tile flooring, exposed brick, and other finishes and details.”
The hotel rooms were transformed into studios for artists and members of the area’s burgeoning creative class. The Mulberry Coffeehouse moved into a space on the ground floor which was previously a garish laundromat. On the exterior, the round Mulberry Coffeehouse sign was once a table. The neon ’M’ once festooned a Shoppers Drug Mart. Inside, high-top tables were sourced from the defunct Susie’s Diner. The chalkboards once served at the now-closed Parkside High School in Dundas.
Forge & Foster purchased the building in 2019 and has continued the work to restore this building back to its original brilliance.
Now is your chance to be part of the rich history of this address. Create your dream workspace in the heart of Hamilton’s downtown in a legendary heritage building. You’ll be part of a vibrant community with festivals like SuperCrawl and eclectic amenities right outside your door.
Create your new office or studio in this charmingly chic Victorian building with exposed brick and 9.5′ ceilings — now for just $850 a month!
Each space includes:
gorgeous hardwood floors
bright windows with natural light
a 2-lock system on your unit door
general building security
Below, take a peek at the type of spaces that are available, then email leasing[@]forgeandfoster.ca or call (888) 410-9440 now to book your private tour.