A parking lot comes to Church Street
This week we take a look at a Church Street house that lasted for 80 years until it met the fate that has struck so many of our downtown buildings — becoming a parking lot.
The house was built in 1901 for James Dillon, for decades active in the retail shoe business in this city. Born in Kingston, he came to St. Catharines in his youth. In 1880 he first entered the shoe business here, with his brother Joseph. A decade later he entered a partnership with Charles K. Moore, and the firm of Dillon and Moore soon became the best known shoe emporium in town. In 1942 the firm became James Dillon and Sons. All the while Dillon lived there in his home, at 79 Church St.
James Dillon retired from the retail shoe business in 1948. When he died in 1955 his Church Street home was bought by William English. It was a handy location for Mr. English in which to live because he worked right next door, at the Hulse and English funeral home. William English was born in Regina but had lived in St. Catharines since 1912. In 1933 he entered the employ of Percy Hulse, who a few years earlier had purchased the funeral business of the late J. D. McIntyre. In 1936 Hulse moved his undertaking firm into an old house at the corner of Church and Lyman streets, a building that until then had been the manse occupied by the pastors of St. Paul Street Methodist Church.
In 1946 Hulse became partner in the firm that has since then been known as the Hulse & English Funeral Home.
William English continued living next door at at 79 Church St. until 1968, after which the building was rented out as a residence until it was taken over by Partington Florist Ltd. in 1974.
Established on Dufferin Street in 1895 by John Partington, and carried on after his death by son Art Partington, by 1974 the firm was headed by new owners Glen and Sheri Clark. Still based on Dufferin Street, the Clarks wanted a downtown branch, so decided to rent the old Dillon-English home at 79 Church. They removed the porch that had originally stretched across the front of the house and installed a large bay window that would nicely display some of Partington’s floral offerings. They opened for business there late in 1974.
After four years, Partington’s left
Church Street and moved its downtown branch to another location, on Lake Street. After standing vacant for a while the end came for the former Dillon-English-Partington building in 1980.
The old house was demolished and the lot soon cleared to provide more off-street parking for Hulse & English next door. And so it remains today.
The parking lot between the Hulse and English funeral home and St. George’s Anglican Church as seen today.
The Partington Florist business is shown in this photo circa 1974.