SLEEK: Hamilton's Modernist Residential Architecture 1950-1975

Whether called a house, a home, a residence, a dwelling, or simply a place, always we make it possessive. It’s our house. Their place. My home. Whether grand or humble, unique or ubiquitous,
traditional or modern, it's never about the materials, or the size to which we lay claim It's to the idea of a
space, an enclosure, a vessel made personal by what we put in it, and by how we live our lives within it. Combining personal possessions and a chosen lifestyle to fashion an individual experience.

From just after the turn of the last century, a new approach to residential, commercial and institutional
architecture was evident in Europe and North America. Sleek lines, industrial materials, open and integrated spaces, little or no ornamentation, all were the antithesis of the styles which preceded what would be called the International Style and Modernism. The term Mid-Century Modern focuses on the period of Modernism from the 1950's through to the mid 1970's. It is this period that SLEEK - Hamilton's Modernist Residential Architecture, celebrates.

Each of the residences in this exhibition have a special provenance and singularity. Each was designed by an architect, mostly for specific clients. Each is designed in the modern style. Each is located in the now amalgamated City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Each was constructed between 1950 and 1975.

Each is still a home. Where the original owners have moved on, others have moved in. Most are in original condition. They continue now as they did then, as unique statements to a very modern way of living.

Hamilton HIStory + HERitage would like to thank each of the owners of the marvelous homes featured in this exhibition. We thank them for allowing us to showcase the beauty, elegance and uniqueness of the places each of them call home. We’d also like to thank architect Tony Butler, photographer Jeff Tessier, printer Tom Kelly of CopyDog, and Brian Kowalewicz and Paul Dolanjski of Historical Hamilton, for their remarkable work in helping to make this exhibition possible.

Be sure to check out the photographs and the location of each SLEEK home on Google at

This podcast features an interview between Graham Crawford, Founder of HIStory + HERitage, and Hamilton-based, and now retired, architect Anthony Butler. Tony did all of the research for the SLEEK exhibition. During the interview, Tony talks about his own experience as an architect, and discusses how he conducted his research for the exhibition.



The Jewish Hamilton Project

The Jewish Hamilton Project features Jewish Hamiltonians reminiscing and reflecting on their experiences of living Jewish lives in Hamilton. The project focuses on areas of everyday life such as education, the Synagogues, the neighbourhood, occupations and anti-semitism. In the process, the view comes to appreciate the vibrancy of Jewish community life in Hamilton particularly during the 1930s through the 1960s.

The podcast features an interview with two of the three producers of The Jewish Hamilton Project DVD - Wendy Schneider and Dennis Haradyn (Billy Shaffir was unavailable for the interview).

Interview with The Jewish Hamilton Project


Podtrod: Corktown Walking Tour

Join historian Bill Manson on a Hamilton HIStory + HERitage walking tour of one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods - Corktown.

This iPod compatible walking tour is free to download and is illustrated, so you'll bea ble to see the buildings and streets as you hear Bill tell you about them.


Download the FREE, Illustrated Corktown Walking Tour


Interview with Robert Hamilton

Rob Hamilton has been a lover of architecture for most of his life. He's also a researcher and librarian by profession. It was this combination of interest and skill that led him to begin learning about the designer of the Hamilton's iconic Herkimer Apartments, at the corner of Bay St. and Herkimer. Once underway, his research revealed the life of one of Hamilton's great architects - William Palmer Witton. In the late 1890's, Witton trained under Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler in Chicago. Sullivan is considered one of America's great architects. Adler was known as a great structural engineer. Frank Lloyd Wright also worked for Sullivan. Witton returned to Hamilton and began his career as a designer of some of Hamilton's most significant buildings. The exhibition features Rob Hamilton's research that traces Witton's career from his birth in Hamilton in 1871. It contains many images of his work throughout Hamilton, both past and present.. If you're a Hamiltonian, you'll be amazed at how many of the buildings you will recognize, even though you may never have heard of W. P. Witton.

Click here to download the Interview with Robert Hamilton


Corktown: Stories of a Neighbourhood

June 12 - August 14

Bill Manson has written extensively on various Hamilton neighbourhoods including the Durand, the North End and Kirkendall. This time, Bill focuses on Corktown, one of Hamilton's most historic neighbourhoods. From its beginnings as farm properties owned by the Springer brothers, and lots owned by speculator Colonel James Durand in the very early 1800's, through the decades that saw thousands of immigrants, many from Ireland, take up residence in Corktown, to today where a new energy is to be found on the storied streets of Corktown.

This multi-media exhibition runs from June 12 until August 14. In addition to the exhibition, Bill Manson will be conducting two H+HTalks and a walking tour. Admission is free to all talks and tours.


H+HTalk - Corktown - June 13 @ 1:00 p.m.

Walking Tour June 13 @ 2:30 p.m. (meet in the parking lot on the southwest corner of Main and Hughson)

H+HTalk - Corktown - July 4 @ 1:00 p.m.

Walking Tour July 4 @ 2:30 p.m. (meet in the parking lot on the southwest corner of Main and Hughson)



If you cannot make the walking tour date, or if you would like to take a self-guided tour as well, there is a free, illustrated, downloadable walking tour narrated by Bill Manson and illustrated with over 100 historical and recent photographs of Corktown. Click on Podcasts and then look for the Podtrods logo to download the tour, or to listen and watch the tour online.