Friday, May 1, 2009

Eaton's 9th Floor Restauarant (heritage site)

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.

1 comment:

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.