Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Montreal History 'slipping away' ??

Found this article on the montreal weblog page, it shows the present condition of the old Montreal Forum.......(the city we knew is changing)

Montreal Forum original
Walking around yesterday afternoon I was struck again by the decrepitude and ugliness of much of Ste-Catherine between Atwater and Guy, but that isn't news to Montrealers.

What gets mentioned less often is the incredible eyesore created by the building that anchors the whole mess.

Sacrilege first: the original Montreal Forum was not a thing of beauty, but it had a certain solid presence and, of course, the cumulative history of the matches and performances that took place there.
Montreal Forum 1950s
This 1950s photo (originally from the city archives) shows what's under that present-day mess. Even so, the office-block-like addition along Atwater is already overbalancing the building in a weird way (it wasn't part of the original design, shown at top).
Montreal Forum 1980s
The major 1968 renovation enlarged the building and created a glass and concrete fa├žade that was unlikely to lift the heart of the architectural critic, but was functional and didn't detract from its surroundings.
The Pepsi Forum
But now! Feast your eyes on this big box of mismatched siding, signs tacked up ad-hoc on ugly scaffolding (lots more of that along the Atwater side), dead exit doors on Ste-Catherine Street, a patchwork of junk basically saying nobody gives a damn. Cabot Square across the street could be quite a pleasant spot, but it has this right in its face. Children who look out at it from the hospital opposite are set back in their recovery from illness. This area will likely never be rescued and made right again until this eyesore is taken away and something less hideous replaces it.

A city like ours should not tolerate a blight like this on a major corner of a major street and, what's more, making mock of what once was a fabled venue. But people get used to things and feel they simply have to put up with urban ugliness because it's there and it's not going away. Until it does! Please, somebody, take it down and put it out of its misery. Like the Seville Theatre a block away, there's nothing there worth keeping any more.

19 comments:

Guy Billard said...

This is exactly the way I feel about the new renovated "Forum" as I mentioned recently but not many members seemed to agree with me judging by the few comments made at the time. I agree, tear the whole block down and build a new structure, anything is better than the present building.
Guy

pauline garneau said...

I totally agree with you Guy.I have often past this corner and wondered why the City of Montreal would allow such an eye soar to be erected anywhere downtown let alone at the corner of Atwater and St. Catherine.

Les F said...

Guy , it wasn't that noone agreed with you,.As I recall you were initially referring to the buildings archecture,If you read the whole articel and compare all the photo's ........they were alluding to the fact that the present owners of the building have toatlly screwed it up,with a myriad of different siding,& signs etc etc ,.....If you look at the evolution of the building it actually got better looking and far more effective in it's usage.........the last makeover was the 1968 version,which became somewhat famous throughout the 'world' with the Forum's crossed hockey sticks ,Show that frontal view of the Forum & it's recognised worlwide,.....but show the grotesque frontage that appears nowadays,then I agree it's an eyesore on one of Montreal's mst wellknown intersections ( Atwater & StCatherine).....the pieces of crap that own the property now,certainly do not do it any justice,but perhaps that's also the fault of the politicians inpower today ,who don't have the balls to dictate to them ,that they should either sell the property to people who will restore the frontage,or give them (the owners) the right to demolish this now eyesore,so it can be developped into something more in tune with Montreal's modern thinking.............Yea ,Like more Condo's ,....Yea, that's it.........more Condos !!!
The building now means 'nothing' to Montrealer's as they have seen fit ,to allow this deterioration of one of Montreal's (albeit) historic buildings,........but in keeping with most city's 'apathy' towards preserving buildings,then I see Montreal as being nothing more than a city that pays lip service towards 'heritage' while accepting builders & owners willingness to let dillapadation to be the key to getting the ok to demolish something...... ie: the Bronfmans that own the building that was the old Seville Movie Theater...........You have to have a lot of money to allow a building in any city,sit unatteneded and deteriotate ,until the propety' is worth more many years later ,to rebuild,and afford the owners a tidy profit on property value alone,.....this latest 'hiccup' in the global economy has only afforded the property owners some breathing room (again) until property starts to rise again......then the historic values will be forgotten, & the publics opinion will be one of wanting to be rid of such eyesores, the new & younger people will totally agree with moving on & bulldozing such minor things as old buildings,.......because they will not know the significance of any of Montreal's heritage,....Drapeau was one of the worst Mayors in Montreal ,in his overzealous attempts (some successfull) to rid Montreal of heritage........and if we are not carefull (at last mindfull) then a lot more of Montreal will disappear......
So I would caution ,that we should not equate poor descisions on owners parts,with determining whether or not to demolish & get rid of anything ,be it a building or neighbourhood..
No one disagreed with your opinion of whether the building (the Forum) was nicer looking or not,we all agreed ( I thought ) that the different views of the building over the years certainly had changed,always the Forum changed to accomodate 'more people' the Forum you remember was not the original Forum either ( it was one from your era) the Forum I remmeber was from my era,both have there own merits (arguably),......but the present day Forum is a piec of dillapadated crap,that serves almost no purpose,.......and neither does just about any building from Atwater to Guy St,most have been boarded up for decades.....and that is shameful.

Les F said...

Wow again I chose not to use the 'Spell Check' and my previous post does show that my spelling was atrocious,............Not to be confused with the spelling of 'Supercalifragilisticexpealodocious'
Hope I got that right..........hahahahahaha HF&RV

Les F said...

Pony don't forget Montreal did not allow 'this' building to be erected,.they initally allowed the first buildings & subsequent improvements,.....but once the main tenants moved out for good in March of 1996,..it is then & only then that this corner became an eyesore,also bear/bare in mind that from Atwater to Guy street,had become an abandoned area of Montreal no longer synonomous with Montreal's great St Catherine Street,......from the Texan restaurant , the seville etc etc & of course places like Toe Blake's Tavern on the other side of the street,everything started to disappear in the mid 80's.....the Forum was really the last bastion or 'anchor' if you will of Montreal's most famous street, Saint Catherine....................Montreal nowadays is more defined by it's waterfront ,with green belts stretching from Montreal to St.Anne de Bellevue & back along the other side(Gouin Blvd etc etc ),& it's festivals,all of which are geared more towards Montreals' 'Old Montreal' district......Have a look at the rest of the city & it's disappearing.......the inner core of any city is the first to go & the last to be resureccted.......afterall Montreal stills sells it;s 'Underground City' as the place to when downtown.
HF&RV

Diane Roberts said...

I agree with you about that end of Ste Catherine Street Guy. When I visit Montreal, I usually only venture to Crescent Street and then head east again. I often go to Westmount Greene Ave area to walk around as I don't feel safe in certain pockets of downtown (or should I say uptown!). Remember when the Alexis Nihon Plaza was first erected and created a buzz at that poorer end of Ste Cath.
Last I looked it was a dump and the surrounding buildings incl. the Old Forum were not much better. I still love to walk along Sherbrooke St with the old stone buildings and architecture that represents the Montreal I remember. Still, despite the problems, it's a great city!.....Diane

pauline garneau said...

I recently made an extension to my house (on a side street)and had to submit drawings and list all material to the City of Brossard . The drawings had to be presented to the city council before a permit was issued. There was a list of what you could and could not do and material what you could and could not use. All I am saying is that the persons responsible for issuing those permits at the city of Montreal for those renovations,their taste must be all in his mouth. But that's just my opinion. Pauline

Ken McLaughlin said...

The outside of the building is a joke. But I do have to say that inside is a different story. It's not wonderful, but the center of it is a wide open oval from floor to ceiling and the there is a "centre ice" symbol apparently located in the correct spot along with a red line that goes across the floor. Also there is a preserved section of red seats that people can sit in along with a sculpture of The Rocket. Not wonderful, like I said, but when you stand near that centre ice symbol you can almost feel the old Forum ghosts, who apparently have not yet made the trip to the Bell Centre (wink!)

Ken McLaughlin

Les F said...

To effectively renew StCatherine Street, I agree they should renew every building from Atwater to Guy Street & make it a safer place to visit. I would have thought by now that ,this many years later,that the City of Montreal would have pressured the property owners to 'do something' with their property's or face losing them ,to someone who will develop the area,However that seems to be the city's modus operandi. let the places fall into decay ,until all the citizens couldn't care less about the areas then development becomes easier,all big cities went through those same problems,they rot from the inside out & downtown cores usually get to be 'no go zones' as most people wouldn't feel safe in some areas.. I walked along StCatherine from Atwater to Guy street & it was strange to see so many places boarded up,more strange is to hear ,that they still are more than 10 years later....too bad really.
Montreal did a great job restoring the waterfront (that few ventured too,in the past) as it was mostly a working harbour & a dirty river,throughout the late 50's & all of the 60's into the 70's...but now have a look & it's beautiful now, let's hope they turn their attention towards making the owners of derelict properties ,come to the party & make Montreal great again......................... HF&RV

Les F said...

Glad to hear that the inside still gives off that 'certain presence' it was always a an awesome feeling walking into the old Forum & seeing that sheet of white ice & that incredible CH logo at center ice,and then seeing all the banners hanging from the rafters,.......most of them relatively new,when I used to see them,.not like todays team still waiting for Sir Stanley since 1993.....Yikes !!
Ken anyway you can get one of the old Catholic Priest to go up their and perfom an excorcism & send those Forum Ghost's over to the Centre Bell ,.......... hahahahaha ,It would be appreciated , especially if it can be done before the Bleu Blanc Rouge return from beantown (hopefully tied at one apiece ) HF&RV

Ken McLaughlin said...

In a related Montreal sports comment, I would say that one of the city's greatest gaffs was NOT building a downtown baseball stadium when it was doable. Instead in it's place we have a bunch of "slums of tomorrow" apartment buildings and the Expos left town. Incredibly stupid move and I blame Gerald Tremblay who basically said, "gee, that's too bad". Drapeau was a madman but he understood the significance of a major league baseball team in the city and would have let the Expos go over his dead body. Montreal has also lost the Grand Prix under Tremblay. Neither loss may be directly his fault but it is a sign of a city going downhill fast isn't? Tremblay has been way too busy cooking up horrible deals such as the Griffintown project, which no one from local residents and business people to architecture professors thought was appropriate. We are entering the repair infrastructure phase and there is so many billion dollar projects in the works that I fear the Olympic games might look like a small buisness loan compared to trouble we may be getting into. I am sure our honest and proud construction unions are just salivating at the thought of getting to "work" on those deals (sigh).

Ken M

Ken McLaughlin said...

Maybe we just need to build streetcars so the ghosts can make the trip in a style they are accustomed to?

Sandy Walsh said...

"fall into decaky?" lol - it sure does look like a pile of "horse...." though. I'm sure it will get fixed sooner or later and hopefully preserve the interior. A friend of mine went to the opening game at the new Yankee Stadium yesterday and said he felt like he was cheating on his wife. I hope those ghosts have moved into the new place.

Les F said...

That's a scary thought Ken,.but I think your right Tremblay has no vision,& seems to make blunder after blunder, & the only time you hear anything from him that sounds 'promising' ( heavy on the 'promise') is when it near Election time......
Unfortunately for us here in BC, is we are about to emabrk on a big time debt (cxause they swear we won't have one) after our 10 days of Lunacy ie: 2010 Olympic's ...and we will have no real forward movement on infrastructure items either.....
Politics as usual I guess...........
back to the Montreal thing, Has Montreal any real alternative to Tremblay or just the 'usual suspects' ?

Alan Cobb said...

The Montreal Forum was always considered the World Shrine of Hockey Etc. Etc. That's all I heard growing up in this city. I never expected the Forum to be turned into the mess it is today! How did the "powers at be"(including the Hockey Gods out there), allow this building to be gutted and turned into a cheap-looking Carnival Show? Don't forget!,On your next visit to sit beside the Bronzed Rocket Richard! Where was the imagination that this place could have been turned into? Where are all the Drapeaus gone? A.Cobb

Steve Redmond said...

Pony did you get all your building permits?

Diane Roberts said...

Ken, I'll have to take a look inside when next visiting Montreal. What is the Old Forum used for these days? As for Molson Stadium, it's not the same but just as exciting watching a game! Because we left so long ago, we don't know the players of today. Our champions were Jean Belliveau, Rocket & Pocket Richard, Ken Dryden etc. Remember the Alouettes with Sam Etchivery, annnnnd......help me out here, the brain cells are seizing up!...Diane

Ken McLaughlin said...

The main thing in the old forum is a movie theatre complex. It's actually one of my favorite places to go to a movie as it is quite roomy, not too long to get tickets, etc. there are basically 3 floors that go around in a semi circle with the center all open. There is a future Shop and a few other businesses inside. If there was one thing they might have goofed on it was not building an underground connection with the Metro and Alexis Nihon. Although it's just across the street from the Plaza, and Atwater was narrowed to create a simple walkway, it probably doesn't get the traffic it could. On the other hand it is also a gateway to that "seville" stretch of Ste Catherine that has been dormant for many years. Remember when the Forum closed some businesses, such as the Texan Restaurant, just said adios rather than stick around to see if they could make a go of it there. It was probably the construction phase that killed that area. When the "new forum" opened, there wasn't much east of it to attract people. I don't think anyone had properly estimated just how many people an arena like the Forum attracts, outside of the actual events that take place there. For example, the old Forum tavern/brasserie had many regulars who were there all year round.

Diane Roberts said...

As a kid, I remember going to the Forum to the Ice Follies, Ice Capades and the Circus...it was a great place to hold events! When I go to Montreal in a couple of years, I'll venture down to the Old Forum and see a movie...if I get mugged Ken, I'll be sending you an email or two!
I also hope to spend a day on a walking tour of Verdun, trying to recall the old haunts and memories, something I haven't done for many years.