Once She was Beautiful: A Short History of the Cromdale Hotel
By Jonathan Weller
Published in the May Issue of the Rat Creek Press
Original Owners: Don Johnson, Pat Gianonne, J. B Starky
An imposing monument of the area, the Cromdale Hotel stands as a contentious symbol of the changes seen along the Avenue over the years. When it was built, the Edmonton Journal called the design ‘smart’ and praised the luxurious accommodations available in the 44 guest rooms, which each came fully equipped with a three piece bathroom, telephone and wall-to-wall carpet.
In the beginning, the area was vibrant, the working class had not made the move to the suburbs, the Edmonton Gardens were the city’s arena and concert hall, which brought out of town performers to stay at the hotel and the beer parlours of the Paddock, the nightclub attached to the hotel, were the first of its kind in the city. It was the place to be, to dance, to socialize, to star watch, to catch a live show; it was a place that from the beginning built memories. However, the high times did not last and as new clubs opened up and people moved away the Cromdale began to undergo a shift.
The 1960s saw business boom, but mainly from beer sales, which lead to an expansion on the western side. Business remained high but the hotel gained a notorious reputation as the years passed. The story has been told often, the near conclusion coming in April of 2004 when health inspectors ordered the building closed.
However, like the avenue community itself, it has been a hard place to knock down for good. Not even a fire in the neighbouring Wee Book Inn during the 1980s was able to bring it down. In October 2009, the city passed a demolition order for the building, which was hotly challenged in the courts for the following three years, with the end in sight with its proposed sale to Shoppers Drug Mart in late 2011. With this, the building is slated for demolition in the Spring of 2012, but this feature of the neighbourhood is one whose impact will be remembered long after its gone.
Another great article: The Rise and fall of the Cromdale Hotel by Lawrence Herzog
Check out this page on Vintage Edmonton which has old newspaper clippings related to the Cromdale Hotel