By Ken Hirter

This month’s Walkabout finds me at home literally. But this Walkabout is about A.M. Forster Brass Foundry/Freeman Block or the “Jamesville Foundry” circa 1873 located at 255-265 James Street North at Colbourne Street.

Let’s go back, way back to the days of yesteryear of horse drawn carriages and General Stores and merchants the year was 1873.

A brief history:

     The first Brass Shop on this site was A.M. Forster Brass which was one of the cities first Brass shops here in the city of Hamilton. In 1855 the company was renamed the Hamilton Brass Manufacturing Company which employed 140 workers. An interesting footnote the streetscape of this section of James Street North was very different on May 15th 1872 when legions of workers supporting the 9 hour work movement for shorter work hours paraded up this section of the street from the North. Spectators leaned out of doorways from bakers, blacksmiths, millners, shoemakers and tailors to witness the parade or an early demonstration of 1872.
A lumber yard soon came under control of W.A. Freeman and he added a 4 storey towers with pinnacles and pyramids roofs at either ends.

     In 1903 saw a major fire that ripped through the building. It destroyed both towers and the tall roof. Sadly many of the ornate additions were lost, but the large round arched Windows at the North corner and the Terra cotta panels, medallions and the carriage way on the North side of the building survived. The Brass Company moved out in 1914 and it’s ground floor became home to retail enterprises. By 1924 the upper floors were converted to apartments there as with the times they are a changing. Hamilton’s downtown core was losing it’s industry to the cities East End.

Archived vintage find as per an article in the Hamilton Spectators a James Street Keepsake from October 29th 2010 when a solid Brass cash register made at the Brass Manufacturing Company was located and lovingly restored as with this building forth coming this spring with new windows and doors and much more……

Hopefully you enjoyed this blast from the past.