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Do you remember the Laurentien Hotel?

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By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca

Laurentien Hotel  – The 1000 room Queen Elizabeth Hotel was the largest hotel in Montreal when it opened in 1948. It was located on the corner of Dorchester Blvd (now René Lévesque) and Peel Street, once the location of the Dominion-Square Methodist Church, built in 1865. The church sold the property in 1912, when it moved to a new location in Westmount.

The 21-floor hotel was designed in the Streamline Moderne, or Art Moderne style by Charles Davis Goodman, a well-known Montreal architect, who was also the architect of Ben’s Deli on nearby Maisonneuve Blvd, the Jewish General Hospital, and numerous residences and apartment buildings in Outremont.

 

Dorchester Blvd looking east – The Laurentien Hotel in the center with the PTC terminal in the foreground – ca 1959

Mayor Camilien Houde who, in March 1946 turned the first sod for the construction, officially opened the hotel in 1948. In his opening speech, Mayor Houde stressed the contribution the hotel would make to the tourist industry and also said that it would be a “monument to friendly bilingual relations” because its English builders had given its name the French spelling “Laurentien”.

The hotel was demolished in 1978 to make room for a new $120-million development, proposed by the Canadian Pacific Ltd. but fell through. Today, the 27-story La Laurentienne office tower, designed by Dimitri Dimakopoulos & Associates, opened in 1986, stands on the site of the former hotel.

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Shortly after Jean Drapeau was elected mayor in 1954, his administration ordered the destruction of hundreds of buildings along Dorchester. In 1955, after the streetcars and their tracks were removed, Dorchester Blvd. was rebuilt and widened into an eight-lane boulevard, with a centre divider and new streetlights.

Dorchester Blvd looking east – The La Laurentienne bldg in the center – 2016

In the top photo, looking east on Dorchester Blvd, the 1039-room Queen Elizabeth Hotel, opened in 1958, is visible in the background, the Laurentien Hotel in the center, and the bus terminal, ran by the Provincial Transport Co. in the foreground. The bus terminal, designed by Harold Edgar Shorey, was like the Laurentien, also a Streamline Moderne piece of architecture. It closed on Friday, June 19, 1970 when operations moved from Drummond Street to the Voyageur bus terminal on Berri Street.

Source: SkyscraperPage / Verdun Guardian / Rohinton Ghandhi / Ville de Montréal

To see the article in the Montreal Times 22.57 April 15, 2017 edition please click on the above image
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