Bank of Montreal
(Curling, Corner Brook)
The original Bank of Montreal building in Curling was a large wooden structure which opened for business on September 15th, 1902. That building was completely destroyed by fire in 1913. The fire began on a Friday morning, gutting the building and igniting a load of coal stored in the basement. It took crews three days to remove the burning coal and extinguish the flames.
The Bank of Montreal decided to replace the building with a structure that would be both burglar and fireproof. The new bank was built on the same spot and was constructed of reinforced concrete. It was designed in a severe classical style by Halifax architect Sydney Dumaresq, and opened for business in 1915.
The bank was constructed with two separate vaults, one in the basement and the other on the ground floor. Each had an average thickness of nearly two feet of steel reinforced concrete. Inside the upper vault was a "modern" steel safe, guarded by two combinations and a triple time lock, while the double set of doors giving entrance to the vault were guarded by combinations and intricate locks.
The interior painting and decorating were completed under the direction of Michael Sullivan, also of Halifax. This local press declared that Sullivan's "workmanship left nothing to be desired." In addition to the vault, the main floor was occupied by the main banking room and the manager's office. The inner walls were clad with beaver board, applied in large panels by the use of four inch strips of weathered oak, while the flooring was of blind-nailed birch. The building was heated by twin Gurney-Oxford furnaces with a compressed air tank system of water supply, installed by a local plumber, R.W. Nauss.
The building was used by the bank until 1985. From 1987-1990 it was used by the Athletic Association of Curling, and then vacated. Neglect and repeated acts of vandalism brought the building to a point where it seemed it would have to be demolished. It is currently (2001) under restoration to be used as an artists' facility, where visiting artists from around the world will live for a month at a time, producing work and interacting with the community's schools and art groups.
The building is prominent in the neighbourhood, and may be the oldest non-residential building left in Curling. It was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador on September 15th, 2001.