A century-old downtown building is being restored to reflect its historic original architecture.
Three of the pioneering members of Sudbury’s business community, Dan Baikie, Dr. William Mulligan, and J.S. Gill, invested in the construction of a solid brick block at 73 Elm St. in 1903 that became known as the Mulligan, Gill, Baikie Block. This building later became known as “Muirheads.”
Mulligan opened the first pharmacy in Sudbury and was also the first resident doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Joseph Sutherland Gill owned a jewelry store and was mayor of Sudbury in the 1920s. Baikie relocated his bookstore that he had opened in 1891 to the new building.
In 1915 Baikie sold the building to F.C. Muirhead who had been working for him for 17 years. F.C. Muirhead continued to sell books, stationery and school supplies. In 1972 the business was sold to Alan Querney. It was run by his family until they sold the business to Grand and Toy in 2006.
The Querney family retained ownership of the building but in 2008 made a decision to sell it. When businesswoman Susan Thompson learned the building was at threat of demolition to create another parking lot, she quickly put a group of investors together to purchase the building.
Her vision was to retain and restore the heritage of the building and follow LEED guidelines for energy efficiency and green construction practices. The vision included taking the 7,500-square-foot main floor space that had been occupied by Muirheads and converting it back to the original four retail/professional spaces that were created when the building was constructed a century ago.
The first of these units, occupied originally by Baikie, is now occupied.
“The space is filled with character in its transformation…very reminiscent of trendy commercial spaces in Montreal and Toronto,” says Thompson, a well-known champion of downtown.
This 2,100-square-foot space on the west side of the building will function as a main floor “live/work” space: a new concept for downtown Sudbury that seems to be in demand from young urban professionals, she says.
The remaining three spaces for lease can be live/work spaces if the tenants choose this option, says Thompson.
Once the main floor of the building is fully leased, the owners will turn their attention to the upper floors. The second floor has both commercial and residential appeal. The third floor will provide beautiful loft-style apartments with very high ceilings, hardwood floors, original millwork, exposed brick where possible and big bright windows.