Collection by Kelly Dawson

A Couple Rescues and Expands a Neglected 1939 Art Moderne Stunner


Carefully working with the community and two architecture firms, this family of three restores a historic structure and adds a glass second floor.

There are only a handful of Art Moderne examples in the predictable sprawl of Ontario's suburbs. Built in 1939, this home (named the Hambly House for its first resident) had become an iconic sight in the Westdale neighborhood of Hamilton. But by the time a couple with one child purchased it in 2013, the house wasn’t exactly an emblem of pride. It had been unoccupied for years: extensive water damage bloated its stucco walls and allowed mold to grow uninhibited. Although its original design was lauded for firmly representing the Art Moderne movement, its many dividing walls were viewed as excessive by today's residental home standards. Nevertheless, the owners wanted to preserve the property’s classic features while adding new ones that continued its history of unconventional design. It was a task that they couldn’t do alone. Alongside DPAI Architecture and Toms + McNally Design, the pair held open houses throughout the planning phase so that neighbors could have a say in the finished look. When the renovation was complete, the address became a celebrated rarity once again. Only this time, the construction of a second story—complete with a complementary curved glass wall—is poised to raise a new set of eyebrows.

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