Monday, July 8, 2013


This Deco beauty located at 70 Longwood Avenue North in Hamilton, Ontario, is currently listed for $399,900 on (for the second time in 5 years). View the listing here. Read about the history and significance of the property below.

Heritage Value Built in 1939, Hambly House has cultural heritage value because it is a rare example of Art Moderne and has all six typical features of Art-Moderne residential buildings (see numbers 1 to 6), two of three prominent features (see numbers 7 to 9), and one common feature (see number 10).
Key Features of Art Moderne 
(1) Horizontal Composition with Flat Roof - Typical
(2) Rounded Corners - Typical
(3) Corner Windows - Typical
(4) Horizontal Lines - Typical
(5) Smooth Wall Surfaces - Typical
(6) Horizontal Window Panes - Typical
(7) Ship Railings - Prominent
(8) Porthole Windows - Prominent
(9) Glass Blocks - Prominent (Not Present)
(10) Prominent Door Surround – Common
In addition to these exterior features, Hambly House has many common interior features of this style, most of which are Art Deco (e.g. Art-Deco fireplace, tile patterns, wall paper, and light fixtures; green-yellow Art-Deco bathroom with American Standard fixtures and faucets; brown Art-Moderne plywood kitchen with grey Formica counter top, red corner booth, and red linoleum tiles). Finally, Hambly House has two features that are unusual in Art-Moderne buildings and thus enhance its heritage value: Art-Moderne landscaping, and a National-Park-Rustic-style family room. Both are described and shown below.
In a preliminary evaluation, the City of Hamilton reported that 170 Longwood Road North has design value, historical value, and contextual value, and that it is "an exemplary case of vernacular Art Moderne architecture in Hamilton":
"The residence municipally known as 170 Longwood Road North (Hamilton) is situated in the Westdale neighbourhood, a planned suburb in west Hamilton developed as part of the “City Beautiful” movement.
The subject property contains a one-storey residence built in 1939 of concrete block and clad in quartz stucco, constructed in a vernacular Art Moderne style, derivative of the Late Art Deco tradition in the 1930’s. This structure is unique among the Tudor Revival architecture of the surrounding residences. The house is conjectured to be constructed by local builders for the original owner, Jack Hambly, likely using plans produced by Edward Glass, a local designer. The detached dwelling maintains its original use as a residence, and is markedly distinct from the surrounding vernacular Tudor Revival residences, also built in the early- to mid-20th century. The single-storey structure features a white-rendered house frontage, flat roof, curved frontage, horizontal line above the windows and porthole window, suggesting some nautical elements, all typical of the Art Moderne style.
The building is situated on an earthen pedestal on this corner lot, and features curvilinear railings on the front step up to the main entry which, in turn, has Ogee curve detailing above the door. The subject property is the northwest corner lot on the block, and the detailed architectural focus of the building is on its northwest corner, around the porch and entryway. A modest garage, set back from the west fa├žade and lower in height than the main building, is built in the same style as the attached house. The exterior has been fully restored to maintain the original materials, and is in pristine condition. The landscaping has likewise been restored, removing and replacing overgrown shrubs and trees. The interior of the building is also largely unaltered, and includes original flooring and wall-coverings: the basement lounge area features use of the National Parks Service Rustic “Parkitecture” tradition, including replicated log walls in concrete."


Art-Moderne Landscaping Hambly House has original, wave-like landscaping which fits the Art-Moderne style perfectly but is rarely seen in Art-Moderne houses: the front yard is shaped like waves which rise to the rounded patio and the sides of the house. The landscaping reinforces the impression that the house is a white cruise ship floating on the sea. The architect created this effect deliberately: since the lot was originally flat, two large, deep concrete window wells had to be constructed—partly above ground level—in order to provide the basement family room with natural light.

National-Park-Rustic Design Hambly House has a basement family room in the National-Park-Rustic style: it looks like a log cabin in a US- National Park in the 1930s. The architect chose a Rustic design but used modern building techniques: the "logs" are made of concrete and wire-mesh and were painted to look like wood. The floor and ceiling also give the impression that they are made of wood but are actually made of linoleum and plaster, respectively. The fireplace mantel looks like it is made of river stones of different colours but is actually made of coloured concrete.

Even though Art Moderne and National-Park Rustic seem to be opposites, they were fashionable in the same time period and were sometimes employed by the same architect: like Art Moderne, the Rustic style of architecture was developed  in the 1920s, reached its high point in the 1930s, and came to an end in the 1940s. The original owner of Hambly House liked both modern and traditional styles of architecture; they were able to live in their futuristic Art Moderne home during the day and retreat to their Rustic, faux log cabin in the evening.



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  3. Have you been by the house recently? It looks like the new owner wanted a larger home. Take a look on google maps to see the second story addition. It truly hope they preserved the basement at very least. And I hope the railing is somewhere safe.

    1. I haven't seen it personally in a while but just saw this Globe article:

      Great Reno but does lack some of the original charm, I prefer. And no railing in sight!

  4. We live around the corner from the Hambly house and were close to buying it prior to the current owners. Our home was designed by Edward Glass and built in 1939. Although not the same exterior style, interior features are/were similar or identical, which is some of the evidence the previous owner used to try and ascertain that Mr. Glass designed that one too. Apparently ours is the only home to have blueprints. Possibly one of the others. Anyway, to answer Moira's question, the Hambly house National Park basement was preserved, and the damaged part was restored.

    1. So sorry for missing this! What interesting information. Glad the basement was preserved.

    2. So sorry for missing this! What interesting information. Glad the basement was preserved.