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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Merchants Block is a two-storey, horizontal, commercial building spanning almost a block along Lakeshore Drive in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.
Constructed in 1929, the Merchants Block is historically important for its presence on Front Street (now Lakeshore Drive NE) in the early business district of Salmon Arm. Flanking the street and facing the railway line and lake, the building represents the economic development of the community both before and after the fire of February 1929 that razed a number of downtown buildings including retail and commercial establishments, homes and barns. Reconstruction was almost immediate; the Merchants Block opened in June 1929, just four months after the fire that had swept the street.
The building is a reminder of the improvements made to Salmon Arm's domestic water supply and fire fighting capabilities after the fire, and shows the resiliency of the city in its ability to rebuild itself after difficulties, as a result of its economic diversity.
The building is also valuable for its association with the fruit-growing industry. E.A. Palmer and Co., a produce company, was one of its prime tenants and part owner (Mrs. Emma A. Palmer and sons) of the original building.
The building is also valued for its continued use as a location for retail establishments. Retail businesses located in the "New Merchants Block" were representative of the economic drivers of that time period and included the Home Bakery, Glasgow Store, The Furniture Store, and E.A. Palmer and Co. Produce.
The Merchants Block is further valued for its contribution to the economic vitality of the downtown. It is a landmark, a defining element of Salmon Arm's historic town centre, and a key contributor to the character of the Lakeshore Drive streetscape.
The building is also important for its design and construction materials. In response to the threat of fire, the building was constructed of poured concrete. It has a distinctly commercial character, typical of buildings of its era, as seen in the two-storey construction, the horizontal form to accommodate retail storefronts, the recessed entries, and the design details such as columns and parapet. The building's design, constructed as a single block-long entity, suggests a permanent presence along the street. Later adjoining buildings, constructed by local contractor William Reader, were modelled after the Merchants Block.
Source: City of Salmon Arm, Development Services Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Merchants Block include its:
- location along Lakeshore Drive NE facing the lake
- at-grade retail entryways
- minimal setback from the street
- two-storey poured concrete structure divided into segments by building trim
- horizontal massing and symmetrical façade
- flat roof with horizontal parapet and gable parapet over the main entry
- arched main entryway with keystone detailing
- recessed entryways
- glazed storefronts and transom windows along the upper storey
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Salmon Arm, Development Services Department
Cross-Reference to Collection