Gardening Magazine

Featherbone Place

By Lindsay James @leavelindzalone

Over the weekend we did a little bit of adventuring and it was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t adventuring of a photographic nature as most of our adventures have been of late, but it could have been if we chose. This time I opted to just enjoy the experience for what it was, and Jay followed suit.

There is an old building downtown (among many others) that will be undergoing some extensive renovations and restoration starting in the fall. This past Saturday the owners of the building held an open house to give interested members of the public a peek inside the building before the work begins. In its current state, the building is almost completed gutted but it retains some of the features that gave it its character, including some leaded stained-glass windows and an iron spiral staircase. It is really quite a neat place, even empty.

Now for a little bit of history about the place: This building was built in 1893 to house the Featherbone Corset Company. Over the years it also housed a shoe warehouse, a men’s clothing store and an antiques shop. It opened as a men’s clothing store in 1971 owned and run by Bud Gowan who later became a local icon of sorts. The clothing store closed at this location in the 1980′s when it moved elsewhere. At this time Bud ‘retired’ for the first time from his clothing store which continued to be run by his son. In the early 1990′s Bud reopened the place as an antiques store and remained open until 2012 when he retired a final time. He sold the building to its current owners John and Nancy Fyfe-Millar.

The current owners have big plans for the building with a 2-storey apartment to be built on the upper two floors of the 4-storey building, open up retail/office space on the second floor, and a wine bar/lounge on the main level and in the basement. I think this plan has some pretty great potential. They have called it Featherbone Place as an homage to the original company the building was built for.

It was a very interesting and fun experience exploring the inside of this historic building complete with coffee and doughnuts! I have walked past it for years while I have been downtown, be it for work or recreation. Seeing it now, makes me regret not visiting the antiques store when it was still open. I had been curious about it for a long time, and when I saw the advertisement for the open house I jumped at the chance to get a look inside. It has great bones and it will look great when all the work is completed. I even may have had a ‘paranormal experience’ of sorts while I was there. I’m not sure what it was, but it was certainly something out of the ordinary. Below I have shared some photos of highlights from the visit – forgive the poor quality, but they were taken with our cell phones.


Hanging out on the third floor. Every floor has great big open spaces.

London's oldest working elevator.

London’s oldest working elevator.

The iron spiral staircase. Not  a great picture of my, but you can see the workmanship that went into this, even if it does look a little bit dangerous.

The iron spiral staircase. Not a great picture of me, but you can see the workmanship that went into this, even if it does look a little bit dangerous.

Paranormal or not? This is the photo of my possible paranormal experience.

Paranormal or not? This is the photo of my possible paranormal experience. I was just trying to take a picture of the natural stone foundation. There are a couple bricked up windows that are below grade today. To me it looks like there is sun shining in the far window, which is impossible! What do you think?

I am hoping that once renovations begin, the owners of Featherbone Place with hold another open house to share the progress of the restoration. I can assure you I will be going back if that is the case. If you are interested in more information about this location, you can check it out on Facebook. They have a page called Featherbone Place where they have been and will continue to share photos and updates. The building is located at 387 Clarence Street here in London, Ontario if you are interested in checking it out for yourself.

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