Saturday, November 12, 2011

155 Fort Street - GMC Building

IMG_5260
Place: GMC Building
Address: 155 Fort Street (Map)
Architect: Unknown

Contractor: Unknown
Opened: 1928


May 28, 1928, Winnipeg Free Press

For most of its 85 years the GMC Building at Fort Street and York Avenue has been associated with the automobile industry.

The mid 1920s were a great time General Motors' Canadian Truck and Coach Division. Sales were soaring and in 1927 they embarked on a $2.5 million expansion of their facilities in Oshawa, Ontario. Another new plant was being built in Walkerville, Ontario.


The following year a regional manager for Western Canada. W. B. Milliken was appointed Manager of Western Sales and transferred to Winnipeg. Part of his new job was to set up a home for their first Western Canadian showroom.

Top: May 12, 1928, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: Sept. 15, 1928, Winnipeg Tribune

A temporary location was set up at Maw's Garage and in the summer of 1928, soon after the visit of GMC president R. S. McLaughlin, the company began construction at the northeast corner of Fort Street at York Avenue. The $75,000, 125 x 126 concrete, steel and brick building was open by September. It was constructed so that two more storeys could be added at a future date.

The building featured a enough floor space to fit 100 trucks and coaches. There was a showroom, parts depot and repair bays.


Through the 1930s General Motors began marketing more types of vehicles from that location, including Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. Other dealerships began to appear on the scene and that dealership system, presumably, is what caused GMC to cease being its own retailer.

In 1939 the location became a GM dealership called Inman Motors that specialized in Chevrolet and Oldsmobile lines as well as used cars. By 1946 there were four GM dealerships in town: Western Canada Motors on Edmonton; Carter Motors on Maryland; Pigott Truck and Tractor on Dufferin, eventually moving to what is now the CBC Building, and Inman.


1959 ad, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1958 Inman moved on and Boulton Motors relocated their Princess Avenue sales room and shop there, nicknaming the building Boulton's Corner. Boulton sold Studebakers and added Renaults in 1960. In 1961 Boulton vacated and centralized back at their second location on Rupert Avenue.

In 1961 a used car dealership and garage called Twin City Motors took over and rechristened 155 Fort the Mitchell Motors Building. They went bankrupt in 1966. 


From that point until 1978 it was York Tool, a Princess Auto-type store selling everything from automotive and household tools to car mats and gloves.

IMG_5261

The next long-term owner came in 1985 when Frontier Toyota's parent company over time operated a sales room, garage and body shop until 2000. In the early 90s the space was subdivided and also housed a Thrifty and Avis Car Rental store. In the early 00s A and B Sound leased space for their car audio installation work.

Tony's Academy Auto Service was the last large, automotive-related tenant. They occupied the space from 2000 - 2005.

It is now an
office building with a number of smaller tenants.

 

1 comment:

  1. Mention that the current look is a restoration! It had ugly paint slapped on it for many years, and someone in the 2000's wisely had it all cleaned off to reveal its original brick.

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