Jan 24, 2013

Hutchinson Block in Medicine Hat

Likely best known as the former location of Hutchings and Sharp, the Hutchinson Block in downtown Medicine Hat was constructed in 1911.  Thomas Hutchinson was an influential businessman in Medicine Hat's early years, and was actually the town's mayor in the 1890s.  As a skilled harness maker, he operated his shop on the ground floor of this building throughout the 1910s.

H.R. Hutchings took over the building in 1934, and by 1950 it was known as Hutchings and Sharp Clothing Limited.  The business remained in operation for decades, becoming the essential western clothing shop in Medicine Hat.  Whether it was the declining relevance of downtown or the thinning cowboy population, the business has been closed for years now.  The branding still remains on the outside of the building however, and I even spotted a vintage Wrangler poster through one of the windows.

Not too long ago the neighbouring building was demolished.  I noticed this back in early 2012 when I went to get a new picture of the rooftops that I had been using as a backdrop for my production logo.  I wrote about that here.  The empty space has since become a bit of a park in progress, with cool graffiti work and a few planters going in.  

I'm inclined to believe that the Hutchinson Block isn't in great shape, since it was looking pretty rough even when it was open.  I'm hopeful that there's still a future for this cool old brick building, and that it doesn't meet the same fate as so many of the other historic buildings downtown.  I suppose only time will tell.

Hutchings and Sharp ca. 1963

Store front windows ca. 1980s

Store front ca. 1980s

Ghosting image of my modern shot merged with an archival one.

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