Spanish for "The Lookout," Edmonton's historic El Mirador Apartments, as originally designed by Ralph Henry Trouth in the Spanish Revival style popular at the time, are a sight to behold. The period detailing, which dates to 1935, includes the main building's distinctive red terracotta roof, white adobe facade, and playful Art Deco-inspired accents. A rare example of the style within the city, and indeed within Canada generally, the 'Casita on the Priarie' has become a local favourite, the heritage-listed apartment block a unique part of Edmonton's architectural history.
Viewed above in the 1980s, El Mirador Apartments have been a part of the city for more than 80 years. The original block proved so popular that it was twice expanded, once in 1937 upon the construction of the rear addition and subsequent inner courtyard, and again in 1953 resulting in the Patricia Annex block built immediately to the south.
Located on a prime parcel of downtown land just steps from Jasper Ave, the entire complex is being eyed for redevelopment by current owner John Day, even though it is on the Municipal Historic Inventory. The local property manager and developer is intent on clearing the site to make way for a condo project. Proposed to bring more than 700 units to the site, plans now in the works to rezone and redevelop the property have caught the attention of local residents and heritage supporters alike. The imminent threat of demolition has pushed the developer to look at options for saving and/or incorporating at least a portion of the heritage structure into any future plans.
Viewed above from the same vantage point as the archival image from the 1980s, the historic block has remained more or less untouched by the passage of time, even as the city around it has continued to evolve. The street has since been repaved in brick, the building next door is now a parking lot, and the once familiar sight of swooping fenders and chrome bumpers have been replaced by today's mix of compacts, minivans, and SUVs. The old apartment block is just about the only thing left to remind one of the look and feel of days past, and the distinctive El Mirador Apartments are truly a gem to be preserved as a marker of the city's history.
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