The most striking feature
of this waterfront residence in Tweed is the two storey curved
window that wraps around the entrance corner. The house is very
streamlined with a prominent door
surround emphasizing the clean lines of the house. All windows
and doors are framed in black and a horizontal black band
adds a nice finishing touch. The windows extending around the
corner are also an indication of the Moderne style. Smooth
wall finishes and a flat roof are also typical of this style.
Art Moderne houses often have corner windows;
generally these are sash, and as well
as making an unusual and interesting exterior look, they also
allow a unique light to the interior.
Like the residence above, this house really looks
like an ocean liner, from the port hole window
to the "upper deck". Horizontal lines of the building
are emphasized by the banding. The
exterior finish is smooth,
clean and really wonderfully streamlined. There is no extraneous
detailing to detract from the clean lines of the
Also in Kitchener we can
find this residence that illustrates many elements of the other
Art Moderne houses on this page: the plain smooth finish, the
horizontal banding, the corner sash
windows, and the large bow window. The colours are white, grey,
and black. Unlike the others, this has a very ornate Art
Deco door surround.
The poured concrete door
surround has a vaguely ziggurat form
and an undulating ogee curve. It is
not unusual to find Art Deco and Art Moderne elements on the
Hidden away on the outskirts of town is an Art
Moderne house with a rough, grey, stucco finish.
Unlike many of the other examples, this has no detailing or
ornament of any kind except for a single grey band along the
roofline. There are flat roofs on the top of each wing of the
house; one has a balcony overlooking
a wooded area.
Distinguishing features of the style are the corner
windows and lack of door surround. This house is also unusual
in that it is set in a large, private, wooded lot.
The Daily News building in London England is
probably the best example of a Machine Age vitrolite buildings.
It is stunning. In Ontario, in the smaller towns, there
are some excellent examples of Machine Age commercial buildings
and in other materials. Sadly, in the larger
areas, they are falling fast.
apartment buildings within a limited urban space it is
often left to entrances and windows to suggest the style. The
overall streamlined look of this entrance
places it firmly in the Art Moderne style while the lettering
is really more Art Deco. The reveals
are definitely Moderne, large curves with fluting. The window
has very little ornament other than a stylized dripmold.
You can imagine Audrey Hepburn dressed in a white flared coat
and black gloves headed in to see George Peppard.
Like many buildings in
Nipigon, the Nipigon Cafe is a jewel. The glass block on the
side windows and the curved entrance
are characteristic of this style, as is the large horizontal
Many Art Modern cafes and
shops had special signs made for their
establishments. The sign companies often maintained ownership
and copyright for the sign and the owners paid an annual fee
for use of it. Eventually, the sign companies went out of business
and the stores were allowed to keep the signs. Many of them,
like this one, are still in very good shape.
The Hamilton GO transit station was recently refurbished
by Trevor Garwood-Jones and Associates, and it is absolutely
glittering from top to bottom. All of the details are exactly
reconstructed with period hardware where possible and with modern
fixtures that portray the Art Moderne style when originals were
not available. Even the bathrooms are stylistically perfect.
All the interior surfaces are elegantly curved.
The finishes are chrome, wood, and marble. For Art Moderne enthusiasts
it is worth a trip to Hamilton to see this beauty. Maybe take
The Paramount Cinema in
Thunder Bay is a classic Art Moderne building with clean, circular
shapes offset by a nicely textured surface. The entrance still
has the original ticket booth and lobby, something that is rare
in parts further south.
Notice that any historical detailing such as ornamented
and pediments is absolutely forbidden
in the Art Moderne style. All lines are smooth and aerodynamic.
Thunder Bay Ontario
the materials that is intrinsic to the Art Moderne style is
Vitrolite. This is a semi-opaque glass that is either black,
blue, yellow, or green. Vitrolite was an exterior finish as
well as a finish used for bathrooms and kitchens. If it was
well installed, it still looks great some 50 years later.
In Thunder Bay there are a few
buildings where Vitrolite is still in good shape; one of them
is this building, currently being used as a fitness club.
Vitrolite is available for anyone
wanting to fix up an old building or add it to a new building.
For information on vitrolite see www.vitrolitespecialist.com.
Thunder Bay Ontario
This Art Moderne gas station has a corner tower
similar to that of the very famous Hoover
Building in London England. The wall finish is smooth and
clean and the window details are discrete. Muntin
bars on the corner tower are a regular checkerboard pattern.
A decorative band above the entrance
is wide and brightly coloured. There is a flat roof with a small
black decorative band or parapet finishing
Thunder Bay Ontario
More than most of the other
examples, this public building looks as much like a ship as
it does a sports center. The sweeping lines of the
façade and the balustrade
along the top are reminiscent of an upper deck.
The futuristic tower with
fin-like buttresses is also shaped
like a steam boat's exhaust. This building really illustrates
the Art Moderne roots in modern transportation and streamlining.
Sault Saint Marie Ontario
of this drive-through cleaners is entirely Vitrolite. The window
frames and mullions are chrome, and
the fascia of the overhang is also
chrome. The windows are very large and unadorned.
Art Moderne style arrived
with suburbs and the popularity of the family car. There is
nothing in this structure that even remotely resembles buildings
created prior to the modern age; the walls are bright yellow
and green glass, the roof is flat, and the carriageway is chrome.
Remembered -The De Luxe
modern architecture, this wonderful restaurant was used often
for movie shoots. The façade was the original vitrolite
and chrome, the materials used in Art
Moderne and Art Deco architecture.
The vitrolite buildings in Europe
are seeing a huge come-back. Sadly this is not the
case here. This facade was removed in 2009 to be replaced by...
The signage on these
places is also interesting. The signs were not purchased, but
rather rented, with a maintenance contract. This gave the owner,
who was probably not familiar with the new neon lighting, the
ability to keep it under constantly good repair. When the signs
went out of fashion, the sign companies often just left them
where they were.
Extra Reading and resources for
Blumenson, John. Ontario
Architecture A Guide to Styles and Terms.
Kalman, Harold "Domestic Architecture"
in A Concise History of Canadian Architecture 2000