When I began this post, I was sitting in my bed, eating leftover birthday cake in a glass that used to hold Bonne Maman jam or marmalade in it and I am reminiscing about the first heritage building that I remember experiencing. My day-to-day work revolves around the historical relevance of places, people, and events, so it makes sense that I would reflect on my personal experience in this, but it only came about because two fellows whom I follow on Twitter commented on the building next door to this one, which I spend more time in today than the other building.
For about five years, I took weekly theatre classes and summer theatre programs at a place called The Theatre School in downtown London Ontario. The place that has substantially more meaning and is extent today is City Lights book store, whose aisles I wander frequently in my returns to London for historical and antiquarian books, and for excellent copies of Chatelaine from the second-wave feminist era. (I’ll ignore the presence of one creepy CBC talent on the bookstore’s homepage.)
The Theatre School, however, was on the top floors of the Imperial Bank of Canada building at Richmond and King, on what I think is the southeast corner (London doesn’t have a natural inclination to landmark by water the way that Toronto and Ottawa do).
The building was constructed in the Italianate style circa 1880. (City Lights down the street is also a heritage building and was constructed three years later.) I remember the floors creaking under our feet as we rehearsed and the small, narrow corridors where we waited between scenes. I remember thinking that it was an old, noisy building, and wouldn’t it be nice if we had a better performance space so that we weren’t all crammed in the waiting area like sardines, despite being mostly petite girls of ages 7 to 14.
Now, I can’t imagine a more interesting space to perform in. I relish the chance to go and visit new old buildings and explore them and hear the stories of those who lived, worked, or play there. Now, I think: A hundred years ago, did Sir Adam Beck do his banking beneath where my feet landed twenty years ago? Maybe. That’s something.
It’s a really good thing that your tastes change as you get older. If not with food, then at least with buildings.