The imposing building that stood on this site until recently was erected in 1875 to house the carriage factory of J.P. Pronguey. The building was designed by Albert H. Hills, a local architect who also designed R.M. Wanzer’s sewing machine factory at King and Catharine Streets. The most striking feature of this building was its mansard roof with dormer windows, a characteristic feature of the Second Empire style. This factory was an ornate addition to the rows of refined Victorian buildings that once lined this part of James Street North.
J.P. Pronguey opened the City Coach Works in 1844, in a small stone building at the corner of Park and Market Streets. He was a master carriage-builder whose practical expertise was widely known.
About 20 men and boys worked for Pronguey shortly before he moved into his new James Street North plant. These workers used their wide-ranging skills to produce an extensive line of products. City Coach Works’ products were well known, both in Hamilton and Toronto. When the demand for carriages declined after 1900, this building accommodated a variety of uses, including: the manufacture of clothing, a furniture store, a bowling alley, a movie palace and live theatre.
A private coach of Landau style is perhaps the finest piece of work in the manufactory. The body is painted black, with gold tracery; the inside lined with crimson cloth and leather; and the top is arranged to open in the centre. By ingenious attachment, the steps on either side descend when the door is opened, and are taken up again when it is closed.
- The Hamilton Spectator, July 18, 1871