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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Morse’s Teas whitewashed

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HALIFAX  News broke out (with lots of photos) of Morse’s Teas sign being painted over, over at 1877-79 Hollis St. The Coast, CBC and The Chronicle-Herald all had their pieces on it but it seems that neither HRM, the Heritage Trust nor the Downtown Halifax Business Association seemed to know what one blogger described as “civic vandalism.”

We’re not sure whether the sign has ever been “refreshed” in the past, but it’s been around since (at least) the 1920s. One of the character-defining elements of the heritage building was indeed the painted sign. Historic Places describes it in detail: “large Morse’s Teas signs of exposed brick lettering in parged sign bands, located between the fifth and sixth levels on the north and west sides.”

Updated: For some further background on the building and the alterations that were approved in 2007, please see this [PDF] Heritage Advisory Committee report from 2007.

We’ll wait on assurances of a restoration and rejuvenation but developer Lou Reznick also mentioned re-branding. How would you feel if it was re-branded to reflect the original name, the Jerusalem Warehouse? Or how about the name of the current tenant in the building, Baton Rouge? Should painted ads and signs reflect the past or the present? Should they be repainted or refreshed occasionally? Or be allowed to naturally flake into memories?

Let us know if this affects your approach to heritage preservation. But in the meantime, here’s some gratuitous nostalgia:

Circa 1965, the original Morse’s Teas sign was covered with a neon sign:

Circa 1977:


Circa 1920s:

Photos by Stephen Archibald, matthewcxlangfordKristen Lou, Ann Baekken and from the Dalhousie Archives and Special Collections.