We gathered on a rare sunny day to sketch the historic El Mirador apartments, and enjoyed a quiet lunch at Doan’s afterward to share sketches and stories.
A surprise visit was made by CTV news who covered the event (September 7 at 13:50).
Marlena Wyman being interviewed by CTV
Sketches by Brenda Raynard
EPCOR was carrying out some noisy (although no doubt needed) work on the drainage system right beside us – a juxtaposition to the tranquil El Mirador. One of our sketchers also recorded that very urban scene.
Sketches by Merts Belmes
Here is the history of El Mirador from the Edmonton Historical Board’s Architectural Heritage website:
Ralph Henry Trouth, the designer and builder of the El Mirador Apartments, offered beautiful detailing to the three-storey walk-ups. The whitewashed exterior features circular and arched details, and an elliptical window over the main entryway. Red corrugated roof tiles cover the distinctive gabled section over the main entryway. And the slightly raised side elements to the roof of the original building suggest the towers typical of Spanish Revival. The arched first floor balconies allude to the arcaded walkways found in southern climates, and the balconies and spiral staircase have iron railings. Most in character to the Spanish Revival style is the open courtyard, which aside from being of architectural interest, helps add a sense of community for the building’s residents. The Spanish name of the apartment, El Mirador, can be translated as “The Lookout”.
Sketches by Marlena Wyman
Sketches by Julie Daly
Sketch by Diane Smarsh
The core of this building is actually a wood framed house built in 1912. The home, still visible on the north façade, was a one-and-a half story gable roofed residence with a full front porch, and was typical of the type of vernacular homes being built during the pre-war boom. In 1935 Trouth built his 12 unit apartment building on the front of the house. In 1937 a second permit was issued. This was for an addition which effectively doubled the living space. This addition was a U-shaped building which formed the building’s distinctive courtyard. Finally in 1953, another building called the Patricia Annex was added to the south, bringing the number of apartments up to 45. When Trouth died, the apartment reverted to his widow, Annie. Edmonton Historical Board
Sketch by Diane Scott
Sketches by Yvonne Rezek
Sketches by Janet Bertsch (bottom sketch is Rochester Apartments, just south of the Patricia Annex of El Mirador) Sketch by Jo-Anne Farley
Sketch by Diane Maxine Yandt
A valiant effort is being carried out by El Mirador residents and other concerned citizens to save the building, but it seems that the building’s fate will be a typically sad one for Edmonton’s history: demolition and replacement with another looming tower complex.
There is a need for densification in our city, but why does it come at the unnecessary cost of the destruction of heritage buildings? New can be built anywhere and anytime, but once heritage architecture is gone, it is an irreplaceable loss. El Mirador in particular combines unique heritage architecture, affordable housing, and a design that encourages community – something we need more of, not less.
Posted by Marlena Wyman