A park­ing lot comes to Church Street

The Welland Tribune - - Arts & Life - DEN­NIS GAN­NON

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 Dil­lonEnglish-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.

Den­nis Gan­non is a mem­ber of the St. Catharines her­itage ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee. He can be reached at gan­[email protected]­hoo.com.

BOB TYMCZYSZYN THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

The park­ing lot be­tween the Hulse and English fu­neral home and St. Ge­orge’s Angli­can Church as seen to­day.

ST. CATHARINES MU­SEUM

The Partington Florist busi­ness is shown in this photo circa 1974.

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