Power Block - Penticton, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 29.980 W 119° 35.577
11U E 312258 N 5486235
Quick Description: Looking not at all as it did in 1921, this might be considered a stealth heritage building, still standing among its contemporaries.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 11/17/2021 7:15:12 PM
Waymark Code: WM159YQ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:
PIC Though still standing and continuing in use as a commercial building in the streetscape of Penticton's Main Street, the Power Block has recently lost its visual image as a heritage building, representing the boom years which brought the City of Penticton to the fore as a major city of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

Now clad in aluminum siding and bearing huge avant garde lettering, all of the original façade has been either covered or removed, leaving us with a quite unremarkable commercial structure bespeaking architectural tastes and styles of the present day. First occupied by a drug store, the building does retain the large display windows unusual in the era, but little else. Over the years the building, designed by architect Lindsay Swan, served as a Safeway store for 30 years, thereafter various other retail establishments.

Today the Power Block is home to the Grove Yard, a record store established in 1990 which bills itself as Your local record shop, offering an impressive selection of new & used LPs, CDs, DVDs, Rock / Pop Culture tees & other merchandise.

Power Block
Description of Historic Place:
The Power Block is a one-storey concrete block commercial building located on the east side of the 200 block of Main Street in Penticton, British Columbia. The pressed brick façade has been covered with wooden cladding.

Heritage Value:
The Power Block is significant as part of the commercial development on Main Street that accompanied Penticton's commercial growth in the early 1920s, a period when the city became the business centre of the South Okanagan and was experiencing a post World War I boom.

By 1921, the year the block was built, the city's population reached 4000 people and commercial construction was booming. Together with the Erikson block, constructed in 1922, and the CPR Telegraph building, it is valuable for its continuity of commercial use and for being part of an intact 1920s commercial streetscape. Like other buildings of this era, the Power Block was constructed of concrete blocks, with a brick front. It was designed by Lindsay Swan, a well-known commercial architect of the day, to complete his project. Swan is valued for his contribution to such early Penticton buildings as the Kettle Valley Lakeshore Station, the municipal power house, and the B.C. Growers Warehouse. It was first occupied by a drug store and featured an extraordinarily large front display window for its time.

The Power Block is also valued for its association with Safeway stores, which occupied the building from the late 1920s until 1950. Canada Safeway was incorporated in 1929 and by 1931 there were more than 3200 Safeway stores in Canada, with its success largely due to the arrival of home refrigeration and new consumer behavior. Safeway stores pioneered the provision of a wide variety of goods and services in a single store, including groceries and drugs, self-service, low margin sales, weigh scales for customers, and vertical product integration.

The Power Block is also notable for its association with prominent Penticton pioneer John Power. Power came to Penticton in 1906 to take up the position of secretary-treasurer for the Southern Okanagan Land Company, which was responsible for developing the Penticton town site and irrigation system that served the town. Power was involved with many early Penticton institutions, including the Board of Trade and the Aquatic Club, and he was part owner of the Penticton Herald newspaper.

Character-Defining Elements:
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Power Block include its:
  • location amongst a 1920s commercial streetscape on the 200 block of Main Street
  • association with the Erikson Block to the south
  • low one-storey profile
  • brick cornice
  • hollow concrete block construction
  • pressed brick façade
  • large display windows
  • glass tiles below the windows, arranged in a brick work pattern
  • indented entrance way
    From Historic Places Canada
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

239 Main Street
Penticton, BC
V2A 5B1

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
To log a visit to a Waymark in this category at least one photo of the property, taken by the visitor, must be included with the visit, as well any comments they have concerning either their visit or the site itself. Suggested inclusions are: what you like about the site, its history, any deviations from the description in the heritage listing noted by the visitor, and the overall state of repair of the site.
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