Monday, January 27, 2014

179 Waverley update (2012 fire)

Two years ago to the month, the house at 179 Waverley Street in the Golden Triangle suffered a two-alarm fire. The following week I posted a couple of photos I took when I arrived shortly after it was extinguished. Here's another from the same photoset, of a pumper truck being emptied of water after use:

The windows were quickly boarded up. It looks from the outside like most of the fire damage was restricted to the upper floors.

The exterior stayed relatively unchanged until at least the end of August of the same year (which is not to say that work wasn't going on inside), but by September the second- and third-floor window bay was rebuilt in plywood. I didn't get any photos after September until March of 2013, when the windows were all in, along with a new metal roof:

It was finished with decorative wood panelling, slightly different from what had been there before but very sympathetic to the heritage feel of the house. It's nice to see stained wood used in renovations, because once it's painted over, you'll never see the grain again.

The neighbouring building at 281 Waverley appeared not to have been damaged by the fire. It has a bit of a whimsical architecture, and the decorations make up for the loss—decades ago—of the front balcony whose former existence is evidenced by the brickwork (the centre window on the right appears to have been a balcony door).

Not all houses are so fortunate. The recent fire at 544-546 Gilmour was much more intense and damaging. While the 2012 fire on Waverley was extinguished before I arrived on scene not 20 minutes after I saw the firetrucks go by, the fire on Gilmour raged long after I left around 11pm. The large mass of the building fed the fire until its climax at around 2am. Justin Tang posted two sets of stunning photos of the flames gushing out of the building (it's two addresses but one building).

One reason I like to take photos of Centretown is the things that we see every day and take for granted as part of the fabric of the neighbourhood. Things like the nice red brick houses. Fires focus our attention on specific houses because the building might be restored to better than before the fire (with some fanfare, in the case of the Jet Black hair studio now occupying the ground floor of 384 MacLaren, or simply restored after a fire with little notice, like 179 Waverley (above) or Dr. Tung Le's office at 346 Bronson. On the other end of the spectrum, a fire might be an opportunity for something else to rise from the ashes, like at Ainee's Convenience Store in the Glebe, or Tommy & Lefebvre. Or not.

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