Friday, May 1, 2009

Eaton's 9th Floor ( Heritage Site) originally Gazette article Aug 2008

Eaton’s 9th floor

700 St. Catherine Street West

9-eaton-an.jpg eaton2

Architectural value

Eaton’s 9th floor is a very good example of interior Art Deco, with its unique composition and space which recall the artwork and furnishings of the great ocean liners.

Historic Value

In the collective memory of Montrealers, the 9th floor is remembered as part of the era of the downtown department stores. Legend has it that this restaurant was modelled after the Île de France liner. The reality however, is that the French architect who designed the 9th floor – Jacques Carlu, who also built the Palais de Chaillot in Paris – worked on the interior design of several luxury liners in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Threat

Transformation of the old Eaton department store into a shopping mall included the demolition of the kitchens of the 9th Floor Restaurant, with some of the old equipment salvaged and placed in storage. While the owner, with the scrutiny of the Ministry of Culture and Communications, has preserved this magnificent space in a stable condition, the passing of each year means the memory of the restaurant is fading, as people no longer have access to this part of our heritage. In the medium term, this could threaten its preservation.

Initiatives of Héritage Montréal

Upon Héritage Montréal’s request, following the bankruptcy of the Eaton’s department store, the Art Deco restaurant on the 9th floor was classified as a historic monument by the Quebec Minister of Culture, the only authority able to protect interior spaces. In Quebec Since then, Héritage Montréal has concentrated its focus on maintaining the attention of authorities and the owners to encourage them to invest in bringing this extraordinary heritage back to life and open to the public.


Les F said...

But the restaurant has been off limits to the public since the Eaton's department store chain went bankrupt and closed its flagship Montreal store in 1999.

Inspired by a trip company matriarch Lady Eaton took aboard the transatlantic luxury liner Île de France in the 1920s, the dining room was incorporated into the plan when Eaton's decided to expand its Ste. Catherine St. store to nine floors from six in 1928.

The 650-seat dining room opened on Jan. 25, 1931, as Le François Premier, but the ladies who lunched there never called it that. It was always known as "The Ninth Floor."

The room is the work of interior designer Jacques Carlu, the French-born professor of advanced design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also responsible for the celebrated Trocadéro in Paris and the Rainbow Room in New York's Rockefeller Plaza.

The restaurant is an elegantly proportioned space, 40 metres long and 23 metres wide, with a 14-metre ceiling. It has two smaller dining rooms off to the side, the Gold Room and the Silver Room. At either end of the main room are two allegorical cubist murals, Pleasure of the Chase and Pleasures of Peace, painted by Carlu's wife, Natasha.

Initially, the Ninth Floor foyer offered a panoramic view of the city, but the vista disappeared as more skyscrapers arose downtown.

pauline garneau said...

When I was seventeen I work at Eaton's in the men's sports department for the Christmas season. I had a ball. I remember going to the 9th floor restaurant for breakfast but most of the time I took the elevator, with operators with white gloves to the basement restaurant.
The 9 th floor should be classified as a historic monument . Pauline

Diane Roberts said...

Great photo of Eatons "Ninth Floor". I remember having lunch there occasionally on a Saturday with my Mum. We usually shopped on Ste Catherine and had lunch at The Indian Room, Chicken Coop or The Nineth Floor!...I had forgotten all about that restaurant, so thanks for the memory...Diane

Sandy Walsh said...

As teenagers, we would go to the "Ninth Floor" for afternoon tea.. We also ate in the basement restaurant quite often and used to get ice cream right outside it - the coffee ice cream was the best. The elevator operators were neat - they had to open a big gate thing before the door would open - second floor/deuxieme etage and then they'd rattle off all the stuff that was on that floor. And those wooden escalators in the back of the store were so rickety but fun.

Diane - where was The Indian Room? I also went there but I don't remember where it was. Was it in the Mount Royal Hotel?

Diane Roberts said...

Sandy, I posted a reply about the Indian Room on your site today. The "antique" elevators were something to behold. Many buildings had very elaborately decorated elevators and the elevator man in uniform and white gloves was ever present and at attention!...Diane