Gore Park washrooms revisited

Gore Park in downtown Hamilton is home to an unlikely time capsule. As the city begins a major renovation above the park, the old underground washrooms are being excavated.The public washrooms were shut 30 years ago. The entryways were incredibly steep and they were becoming too difficult to maintain and monitor. However, they do house some electrical equipment that needs to be rerouted, resulting in the dig.Crews had expected to find rubble but instead found a slice of Hamilton history.They were built in 1913 for $23,000 ($4,400 over-budget) after a city-wide referendum. They were the peak of luxury at the time under two barely noticeable entryways featuring marble stalls, honey comb tiles and brass fittings.In 1981, they were voted Canada’s best public washrooms by “Today Magazine.”But just three years after earning the distinction, they were permanently shuttered, toilet bowls in all.Only now, as the city begins the renovation in the core, is a glimpse at how they’ve weathered the years available.The floor is covered in debris and paint is peeling overhead but the century old lavatories have remained remarkably intact.The original construction plan was to fill the cavity where the washroom lie but it’s much larger than crews expected so they are back to the drawing board. Contract Inspector Jeff Harris was one of the few people allowed underground. He hopes the city is able to preserve some of the beautiful materials down there.

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