The 1912-built Armstrong Block was one of the throng of warehouse buildings erected between 1909 and 1914 that gave rise to the eponymous neighbourhood. A cascade of businesses capitalizing on newly available land sold by the Hudson's Bay Company forever altered the complexion of the neighbourhood, which later saw its buildings converted into commercial enterprises and residential lofts.
Indicative of the Warehouse District's early development, and the building boom that preceded the First World War, the David Hardie-designed building was erected in the Edwardian Commercial style by brothers Reginald and Herbert Armstrong. Unlike its neighbours though, the Armstrong Block offered more than just typical warehouse space. By 1914 it had become a home for wholesale businesses on the main floor, with offices and residences taking up the top levels. Despite this residential space, the structure was built with a solid steel frame, a feature that was mainly restricted to commercial-only buildings.
Hardie possessed a strong track record in designing commercial and residential buildings across Edmonton and foresaw the eventual change in the neighbourhood's land use. As a result, the Armstrong Building is reputedly the only remaining downtown building purpose-built for a mix of uses. A setback punched out on the upper north wall ensures that any development on the adjacent lot, currently being used for parking, would not hinder the entrance of light and air to the upper apartments.
Its association with the early growth of the Warehouse District and its architectural attributes, which include projecting pilasters and a stone "A" emblem on the parapet, contribute to the building's protective status as a historic resource under municipal and provincial designations. With retail on the main floor and apartments above, the Armstrong Block continues to fulfill its original purpose more than a century since its birth.
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