2017 is half over and The Imperial is finished. It has been three years and three months since I began work on this building – it has been like a very long pregnancy.
The last part of the building, The Imperial Market & Eatery, was opened at the end of May 2017 by Sabrina & David Hutchison of New Dundee. They have been royally welcomed by the people of New Hamburg:
Let’s go back to January 2017. Bitte Schon Brauhaus brewed different beers every few weeks. They added food, games and live entertainment. The pickled eggs brought back many memories of former country bars. The Ernie Ritz beer was a real delight – an unforgettable taste with hints of musty papers.
Beers on Tap at Bitte Schon:
Lauren behind the bar:
Lee, one of the owners of the brewery, wrote the following: “We’ve been open 8 months now and we are loving being a part of New Hamburg. We have been invited to participate in a Optimist Dinner meetings and we’ve created a beer for the Wilmot Wild Lacrosse team. We look forward to adding more interesting and creative beers to our line-up. We’ve joined the New Hamburg Board of Trade and we love meeting the community in person and online”.
Sweets expanded their menu to include soup and sandwiches at lunch. Chrissie, the owner, just won a huge prize in Manhattan at the International Cake Decorating Contest. She won first prize with her wedding cake that took 125 hours to make. She and Justin drove it all the way to Manhattan. We are honoured to have her in our midst.
Karen, Traci and Kristina have had an excellent year at Imagine Travel. Karen wrote the following: “I moved Imagine Travel to The Imperial Building in May, 2016. It has been an excellent move for us. We needed the space and were able to have a hand in designing that space. After just over a year here, I can honestly say it was a great business decision! Our office is bright and visible streetwise too. The space is perfect for us. We get such positive comments from all of our customers and generally from anyone who knows us. My staff is very happy here as well. We can all be at the office at the same time, seeing our clients! I want to thank Marie Voisin for all of her encouragement and support. In our small town it is wonderful to see restoration of a major building, and an addition that adds so much, in retail and in living space”.
Meanwhile, the restaurant finally received its building permit early in the year and the fun began:
Gradually we saw the workers return to the site – these are the craftspeople who worked on the Imperial Suites for two years. It was like they were coming home again. I think they were just as happy to be there as I was to see them on site. Unfortunately when you see people every day for over two years, you become friends; but when the project is completed, they move on and you rarely see them again. As much as I wanted to see the project completed, I was sad to say farewell to my people.
I was involved in the design team for this project. I helped Ron Nuhn, the restaurant designer, source out furniture and decor items. Sabrina & David told us what they wanted and we did it.
Dennis from Nith Valley returned and set up his work table within the hour. The table moved around the restaurant space as we worked on different areas but Dennis did not complain – he was so happy to be doing carpentry.
We didn’t recognize Dennis at first because he had grown a beard:
Even Blake Scherer from Conestoga Mechanical happily returned to his home town. Blake was one of the first trades to work on the entire building. His first job was to install plumbing underground. He now has a well-deserved desk job – congratulations Blake:
Roberto from Eby Electric was on site for many weeks:
This feature wall in Sabrina’s office is an original 1872 exterior wall:
Rick Haffner came out of hibernation again to do some heavy lifting for Nith Valley. I saw him at Canada 150 and didn’t recognize him without his hard hat:
The back corridor of the restaurant where the restrooms are located:
The kitchen floor with its top coat of sealer on it:
The fire-suppression system above the grills:
Dennis built the canopy above the service counters:
We were able to fully expose the original 1872 archway that had been closed in since 1907:
The arch now leads into the cooking area of the kitchen. Lynn Zehr did a superb job repointing the bricks after Anthony Richardson of ABR sandblasted them:
Remember the wide boards that we found behind a plaster wall in the 1903 third-floor addition? These boards had been taken off a barn in 1903 to be used for the Imperial addition. Prior to being on a barn, the boards had been used on another building. We saved all these pre-1850 boards and used them in the small lobbies on the second and third floors of The Suites. We had enough remaining to use on the feature wall of the restaurant. They are so simple and exquisite in their beauty:
When John Zehr was restoring his pre-1850 building across the street, he decided that he didn’t want to use the two cupboards that were found on the third floor. These were very old flat-to-wall cabinets built for William Scott. Over the years, they had been painted many colours. Their last renditions were ivory and pink. John gave them to me to use in The Imperial. [Thank you, Thank you, John] I had them stripped and then Frank from Nith Valley rebuilt them in the restaurant.
White cabinet before:
Cabinet rebuilt on restaurant wall before staining:
Pink cabinet before:
Pink cabinet now. Cabinets were refinished by Shannon Jurvensivu. This cabinet fit into a small space with 1/8″ to spare:
Sabrina wanted some vintage looking display cabinets. Gail Hiscott and I went to an auction outside of London one evening and bought 2 cabinets, tables, chairs and loaded them into my van. We drove home at 10:00 p.m., stopping a few times because the glass doors on the one cabinet kept crashing open. It was a very enjoyable ride back to New Hamburg. We laughed every time we had to stop and repack the van in the dark.
This particular cabinet was in rough shape but we knew it had potential. It was too wide for the space allocated for it, so Ron Nuhn, our esteemed restaurant designer, cut off four inches with his hand saw and rebuilt the cabinet. Ron is handy:
Ron added a crown to the top of the cabinet and Shannon gave it several coats of fresh paint:
This is the other cabinet that we bought at the auction:
Once upon a time before 1961, The Imperial had a stained glass window above the corner door. We saw it in an old photo. In order to bring the old Imperial back, Dave Burns of Foiled Again in Kitchener made another window but with a crown this time:
David rebuilt all the 1908 stained glass windows and he made some new ones as well. Remember they used to look like this:
David added some more colour and jewels to the new windows:
Remember the tin ceiling that we found from the 1908 renovation of the lobby ceiling? We used it for the panels along the serving counter. I saved everything that we could possibly use again:
You will see it on the front of the counter as you walk in:
I had purchased tables, chairs and chandeliers from The Westmount Golf and Country Club in January 2014 when they began to redecorate their dining room . I knew they were lovely furnishings and I have stored them for the past three years in a building at home [much to my husband’s dismay]. We finally brought them out this spring and prepared them for their new life.
The tables were great but were too large for what we wanted. Dennis cut them to size and finished the edges off. Photo of tables piled on top of another:
The dining room chairs from Westmount were large and VERY comfortable:
Don’s Upholstery recovered them in a blood red Chinoiserie:
Westmount Golf & Country Club had purchased these chandeliers in the early 1980s directly from Italy. They are heavy solid brass and they set the tone of The Imperial Market and Eatery:
Before I bought the building in 2014, the current restaurant area was Eddly’s bar:
After all the furniture was moved out, it looked like this:
The building shell was added to:
Until finally it looks like this:
We had to work around the many posts on the floor space. Ron designed a four-seater around this post:
The Imperial Market sells fresh produce, meat and condiments:
Some of the staff on opening day:
At 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 27, 2017, The Imperial Market & Eatery opened its doors to its first customers:
Ron Nuhn designed the interior window trim to reflect the exterior window treatment of The Waterlot and The Mammoth Block [Zehr Insurance]. We did not have enough overhead room to frame the windows so this was a great solution:
He added corbels to compliment the treatment:
The walls were painted with Black Panther, the same colour that was used on the trim of the addition.
Signs were designed by Victoria Locke of Unlocked. Victoria has taken care of all the signs at The Imperial. She is such a talented woman!
The canopy above the corner door:
The corner – plants provided by Marion Hesse.
Signs above entrance doors:
Rear hallway with theatre seats:
These seats were originally built for The Regent Theatre in New Hamburg in the early 1920s. After the theatre closed in the 1960s, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church purchased them for their choir loft. The Society of Saint Pius X purchased the church during the past year and sold the theatre chairs. I bought some for the restaurant:
Sabrina always has fresh flowers in the hallway:
The restrooms are very interesting, thanks to Ron. The Edison bulbs brought a sense of antiquity to the rooms:
The ceilings are a maze of mirrors:
Did you know that there is an outdoor patio?
The patio was designed by Laird Robertson, our incredible architect. The posts and beams are Douglas Fir and were shipped from B.C. Laverty Log Homes and Timber Frames from Baden assembled it on site :
Marion Hesse designed the flower pots:
The upper terrace for the tenants and the lower patio for the restaurant patrons match. Thank you again, Westmount Golf & Country Club for selling your Hauser outdoor furnishings:
Here’s to you, Sabrina & David. It is in your hands now….
A few end notes:
On the opening day of the restaurant, Mike Weber gathered previous owners of The Imperial together. What a wonderful feeling to have us together, reminiscing about the past.
They are L-R: Wayne Brown, Ed Becker, Ken Schmidt, Mike Weber, Bonnie Weber and Marie Voisin:
On June 13th I was presented with an Award of Excellence from the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation for the restoration of The Imperial. This is the Stanley Cup or an Academy Award of building preservation. I was so honoured to be this year’s recipient:
What’s next? This is the question I am asked most frequently. I am busy taking care of my tenants in The Imperial Suites. They are such dear people who have become my Imperialists.
Ernie Ritz and I are ramping up our writing on the book we began researching five years ago – New Hamburg Historic Buildings & Their Owners. You might see me walking around New Hamburg with my camera again. I want to retake some photos before we finish our research.
I also promised to write a book on The Imperial. I have the photos and the history – I just need time to compile it.
As for restoration of additional old buildings, I am not allowed to look at any buildings that require rescuing. I am still thinking about that.
Thank you loyal readers for following the journey of The Imperial Restoration. It has been a magnificent experience, and on my part, one of love for New Hamburg and its people.