Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A New Old Building Downtown

Bud Gowan, owner of Bud Gowan Antiques, is retiring at last. While London will miss both the man and his store, at least we don't have to wonder what will happen to his historic building. 387 Clarence Street has been sold to John and Nancy Fyfe-Millar who plan to renovate most of it into apartments. It's positive news for an historic building in the core area.

Built in 1892 for the Featherbone Corset Company, the structure has had many uses over the years. In the 1940s and 50s it was home to London Shoe Company, as evidenced by the cool "ghost sign" high on the north side. What are ghost signs, you ask? They're faded signs painted years ago by former business owners on older commercial buildings. They provide us with interesting links to London's retail and manufacturing history.

Update, August 19, 2013 - For more details on ghost signs see this London Free Press article.

Update, September 14, 2013 - The Fyfe-Millars held an open house late this afternoon so guests could view the building after Phase 1 of its restoration. Visitors descended to the basement to view the foundations, then climbed the circular stairs to inspect the second, third, and fourth floors. Some folks had a ride in the elevator - London's oldest, shown at left - which is truly an experience in itself. We also had the opportunity to sign a guest book that was enclosed in a lined soft cover salvaged during the restoration.

Rumour has it the ground floor may become a bistro or bar while commercial space will be available on the second floor. An excellent opportunity for a business wishing to locate in the core. Many thanks to John and Nancy for providing us with a chance to prowl inside a great building!

Update, September 2015: The reconstruction project will begin in October and is to be called The Featherbone Building after the corset company. Bravo John and Nancy! This is all so much better than having a certain developer slap his own name on a building and let it sit empty ...


  1. I rode in that elevator with Bud and had no idea.

  2. I wonder how much apartments would cost. I'd love to live in a building like that one.