It has been an exceedingly busy seven months. In April, we rushed to finish six suites for the first tenants who were moving in at the end of the month. The township gave us our occupancy permit the day before the tenants moved in. That was a close call….
We still had to finish out the sunroom and some suites etc. The workers continued to finish the project after some of the tenants had moved in! Before we knew it, it was completed.
Remember when it looked like this when I purchased it in April 2014?
And then a few months later…
Luckily, the building survived. All 12 suites have been rented! An Imperial family has been created in the Suites.
Would you like a tour of The Imperial now that it is completed? Let’s begin at the front of the building on Huron Street.
SweeTs Bakery was opened in May by Chrissie Boon & her husband, Justin Kozak, of New Hamburg. It is an adorable bakery and perfect for all the residents who have a sweet tooth in Wilmot Township.
Justin, Chrissie and their family:
Justin behind the counter:
In October, Bitte Schon Brauhaus opened its doors. Many beer lovers were eagerly waiting for this day. It will carry on the former German-brewing traditions of the Rau Brewery of New Hamburg.
Bitte Schon is managed by Wade Clubb:
A wee bit of Eddly’s still remains in Bitte Schon:
According to their brew list, a Voisin Vienna Lager will be featured soon. Can’t wait.
Restaurant news: David and Sabrina Hutchison of New Dundee are opening The Imperial Market and Eatery in the new year. They also own Scran and Dram on Waterloo Street in New Hamburg. There will be more news in the next few weeks.
David, Sabrina & family:
Do you remember the 1908 stained glass windows that were on the front of the Imperial?
We had a cornerstone made for the original building as there never was one:
We also had one made for the addition:
The button lights on the sign board light up at night. The corner door is a replica of the 1908 renovated door and it will be the main entrance to the restaurant:
It was a great summer for our planters along Mill Street.
A Canadian and Imperial flag adorn the entrance to the suites.
Ornamental details were added to the Suites canopy:
Imagine Travel is nestled beside the entrance to the suites. Karen Weber and her staff of Traci Jutzi and Kristina Ziegler are always smiling. I wonder if it because they are always thinking about travelling….
Let’s go around to the rear of the building. Do you remember when it looked like this in 2014?
The courtyard was the last thing we worked on. This is what it looked like in October. The raised deck by the building is the site of the patio for the restaurant.
Kathie Jordan created 4 wall designs placed in amongst the Owen Sound ledge rock on the exterior kitchen wall [of the restaurant]:
Lynn Zehr has been building a fence around the courtyard:
This is the entrance to the storage room in the courtyard. Frank, from Nith Valley Construction, built this door as well as the gate on the west side of the building:
Exterior lights in courtyard:
The arcade leads from Mill Street to the courtyard. This is an access to the rear of the building for deliveries.
It also allows access to the gas meters.
The north wind is picking up, so let’s go into the building through the Suites entrance, 214 Mill Street. As you look up, you will notice a tin ceiling in the vestibule. This ceiling was found in the 1908 lobby of the hotel. We had more panels made by Brian Greer in Mannheim.` The two ceiling pendant lights were from the mid 1900s.
Note the portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald, our first Canadian prime minister:
Come through the security doors into the lobby. The decorating theme of the Imperial Suites is Edwardian. In 1908, the entire building was refurbished in the Edwardian period, after King Edward VII who was the King of England from 1901-1910.
I have been painting the ceiling in the lobby to reflect the hand-painted 1872 ceiling in the original lobby that we found. We couldn’t save the original ceiling so I took photos of it and colour samples:
The new lobby ceiling:
The settee and chairs were purchased from Kathie Jordan Design in New Hamburg. Don’s Upholstery in New Hamburg recovered the settee in a whimsical print.
I purchased a beautiful Edwardian sideboard at Shackleton Auctions last year and it has become the focal point of the lobby.
The six matching Edwardian crystal chandeliers in the lobby were found by Kathie and John Jordan at the Aberfoyle Antique Market. The lights had been salvaged from an old 1900 theatre in Buffalo in 1960. They were put in boxes and remained in an attic until the mid 80s when the owner died. They were purchased in the 80s and sat for another 30 years until an antique dealer bought them and rewired two of them. I had them all rewired and I replaced missing parts: they now look spectacular in their new home.
Portraits of King Edward VII and his wife, Alexandra, Princess of Wales watch over the lobby on the west wall:
Sir Wilfrid Laurier was our Canadian Prime Minister during the Edwardian era:
Along the main floor corridor to the north entrance is the Imperial Rubbish room.
Two double sconce lights with alabaster shades from Buenos Aires guard the elevator entrance on the main floor:
I purchased this lovely antique mirror for the lobby wall from Paula Povey:
Gloria Kropf of Kitchener painted this lovely Edwardian couple:
Nith Valley Construction built a Time Capsule that was put into a wall in the lobby. In the Time Capsule I placed: shoes that we found inside the building during the demolition; the left shoe of former owners and those of the construction team of 2014-2016; all the minutes from our meetings; photos of our family; and a copy of the blog. Ben Eby took some incredible photos of the shoes and framed one of them for the lobby.
In front of the elevator doors is a ceramic name stone – The Imperial. Established 1872
A reproduction floor indicator was installed above the elevator door on the main floor.
Please enter the elevator and look up. The tin ceiling is a replica of the tin we found in the original lobby. The walls are comprised of smoked grey glass and grey-stained oak panels. Delta Elevator built this magnificent elevator just for The Imperial. Listen for the annunciator in the elevator: it is a woman with an English accent – just another feature provided by Delta!
Let’s get off on the 2nd floor. The wooden wall behind the chairs came from wood planks that we salvaged from the third floor. Remember when we found them during our demo phase? They had been hidden behind a plaster wall in 1902 when the third floor was built. They had been used as barn boards before being used in The Imperial. We washed them off and put them in the second and third floor lobbies. The two chairs were purchased at Shackleton Auctions and the table from Kathie Jordan Designs.
Ernie Ritz stood beside the wide boards in 2014.
The Imperial insignia was added to the second and third floor elevator doors thanks to Victoria from UnLocked.
There are single sconce lights beside the elevator door on the second and third floors.
Let’s continue down the hallway to the sunroom. It is directly above the restaurant kitchen.
Greg and I purchased this exquisite fireplace in Buenos Aires on our way to Antartica. We found out about the wonderful antiques in Argentina through our friends, Jim and Ethan Miller.
The tin ceiling panels are replicas of the 1908 lobby ceiling.
Resident Shirley Smith donated her piano to the Sunroom:
Let’s walk up to the third floor lobby. It is almost identical to the second floor except the walls are blue-grey and the furniture is different.
Unlocked designed the directional signs in the hallways.
Unlocked also had the door numbers made.
Suite 301 is special to me because the grandparents of Rick, one of my dry wallers, live here. Thank you Rick for encouraging them to do so.
I almost forgot to introduce two very special residents of the Imperial.
Empress of the second floor is the reclusive Miss Deandra:
The reigning Queen of the third floor is her Highness, Miss Moxie:
I commissioned over 20 local artists to paint pictures for the hallways. The only stipulation was the subject matter had to be from Wilmot Township. There is so much talent in this township. Here is a glimpse of their work:
Another by Judy Gascho-Jutzi
Along the Nith River by Derek Brisland
Another by Derek Brisland:
A view from the Nith by Kathie Jordan:
“Willie” by Jan Cressman-Weiss
Collage of Imperial Artifacts by Sarah Clarke:
Dark flowers by Sarah Clarke:
White Flowers by Sarah Clarke:
Winter Scene by Sarah Clarke:
Poplars by Sarah Clarke:
Betty Arnold, 2001, mother of Debra Armstrong.
Edwardian woman reading by Mackenzie Jordan:
Another Edwardian woman by Mackenzie Jordan:
Riverside Cemetery by Marie Voisin:
Floral by Dorothy Wagner:
I purchased some Edwardian tapestries in Italy: “Summer” by Alphonse Mucha:
“Fall”, “Winter” and “Spring” by Alphonse Mucha.
The Tree of Life:
I also purchased and was given some vintage Edwardian prints and paintings:
Heritage photos of Wilmot’s past:
New Hamburg’s 1908 Hockey Team:
New Hamburg’s 1923 Hockey Team:
New Hamburg’s Businessmen in 1906:
The following three sketches were compliments of Kathryn Ritz.
The Queen’s Hotel:
Continue walking down the corridor and turn right into the entrance of the terrace. Since it is winter, the tenants are not gathering here anymore. Not even the furry Moxie, the Queen Cat of the third floor, ventures out anymore.
During the summer and autumn, the tenants gathered here for meals and after dinner ,they would meet for some lively discussions. We had monthly barbecues on the terrace to celebrate birthdays.
This lovely lemon tree has grown several luscious lemons that will be used in lemon meringue pies in December:
Would you like to view some suites before tenants moved in?
Several of the tenants have given us permission to tour their suites. They used the furniture that they had and created comfortable and cozy homes for themselves:
Moxie wanted her photo taken again – such drama.
Sadly, this is the end of our tour. I hope you have enjoyed your walk through. Please visit Imagine Travel when you leave and stop in at Bitte Schon and SweeTs to enjoy their wares.
Post Script: The Imperial has grown from 1872 when the first two floors were built:
To 1902 when the third storey was added:
To 2014 before major restoration was begun:
To December 2014 when it was under wraps for the winter:
To 2016 when it came back to life:
The Imperial once again offers accommodations, a bakery, a brewery, a travel agency and a restaurant. New Hamburg’s past has returned to the present. I am proud that I was able to make this contribution to the revitalization of beautiful downtown New Hamburg.
I have been helped with the day-to-day needs of the building by my super senior superintendents, Phil & Yvonne. Their combined backgrounds in Bell Canada, the legal system, real estate, nursing, public relations, carpentry and entertaining has made them perfect supers. They keep everyone in the building and me on our toes.
The Imperial has been a phenomenal experience. It was a great learning experience for me for the past two and a half years. I was very fortunate to have the guidance from Terry and Amy from the building department at The Township.
I am receiving accolades for this project but it was the combined effort of Bob Zehr and Lynn Zehr of Nith Valley Construction, Laird Robertson and Gabe Guy of Robertson-Simmons Architects, Ben Eby of Ben Eby Inc., and all the tradespeople. Together we resurrected The Imperial. I could not have accomplished all this without their ideas, knowledge and work.
[L-R: Ben Eby, Lynn Zehr, Greg Voisin, Laird Robertson, Bob Zehr]
Gabe Guy of Robertson-Simmons Architects.
The ensuing stage has been equally as exciting: getting to know my tenants in the suites and in the retail stores. They are all such lovely people and seeing them makes me smile.
My husband, Greg, joined me on this Imperial voyage. He is such an intelligent man who understands developing properties and building structures. He is amazing. He supported my plans every step of the way and I thank him for believing in me.
I owe so much to my good friend, Gail Hiscott, who helped me choose flooring, paint colours, chandeliers, hang pictures, decorate the sunroom and many more things. Gail has exquisite taste and she excels in English decorating. Together we had so many laughs and special moments when we found exactly what we were looking for.
And thank you two people who created and maintained this site; to my niece, Janine MacIntyre:
and great-niece, Haley McMahon.
On behalf of The Imperial, have a wonderful holiday season and a happy 2017. The photo below was taken by Mark Pfaff on December 4th during the NH Christmas parade from his father-in-law’s apartment in The Imperial:
Thank you for reading the Imperial blog.