The London Roundhouse Project will take the former Great West Beef building on Horton Street and turn it into an exciting space to continue the revitalization of the SoHo area.
But that doesn’t mean the more than 100 years of history behind the building will be forgotten about. In fact, later this month, people will have the opportunity to purchase pieces of that history.
Excell Auction Services, known now as www.excellauctions.com, will be hold an auction of more than 1,000 items found during the early stages of the renovation project.
Richard Lavoie is Excell president and for the past month, he and his staff have been busy helping uncover, catalogue and prepare for sale a lengthy list of items. The auction itself is set for Saturday, Dec. 14 with a viewing of items scheduled for the day before.
The enthusiasm Lavoie holds for this particular sale, and he has been holding auctions since 1978, is shown in a simple railroad spike.
“This rail spike was found only after the interior floor of the building was dug up as part of renovations that are underway. Just think about how long this has been buried in time,” Lavoie said. “I call this a timeline. Yes, we have a lot of Great West Beef items, but we found items from the early 1800s. It tells the whole history of the building, right up to today.”
The Great West Beef restaurant closed its doors seven years ago.
Lavoie said they have found “all kinds of little artifacts,” items he says mean a great deal to the timeline of the building. It isn’t just a bunch of chairs and tables, but rather pieces that all contain pieces of history.
There is a pair of doors Lavoie says were from the 1800s, but were left hidden away in the basement. The doors, according to research Lavoie has done, were manufactured prior to the Eiffel Tower being built.
“Where would you find another two like that? There is a lot of history behind these doors,” Lavoie said. “There are pictures of London from the early 1900s. There are documents from the Grand Trunk Railway, the gentleman who formed that died on the Titanic. There are cheques from 1915. The CN lanterns, the conductor bell, some very interesting pictures, such as the old London railroad building; it is really amazing.”
Among his favourite items are the 120 pieces of stained glass windows, many of which incorporate railroad cars or other items all related to the long history of the Roundhouse.
As with any auction, Lavoie said it is the public determines the value of the items. From there, those attending the auction, or placing bids online, determine what price the item will ultimately sell for.
“You put the history behind these items and the value goes up. But that is up to the public to decide. I go with what my stomach feels the price is,” Lavoie said. “I will call for a bid, say a lamp I say is valued at $500. The bidding might start at $50; it could end up at $800. That is the fun of an auction.”
Every item of significant value will have a certificate with it and a gold seal put on it to signify it was part of the Roundhouse.
Lavoie said he is expecting a huge turnout for the sale, which will open its doors at 10 a.m. before the actual auction takes place at 11 a.m. The sale takes place at Excell Auctions (345 Horton St.), which happens to be, ironically enough, directly across from the Roundhouse building.
Also sure to spur interest in the sale, Lavoie said a portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Business Cares Food Drive. An appropriate thing to do, Lavoie said, given the time of the year.
This has been a lot of fun, there are some incredible pieces that will be up for sale. I could put my hands on a 100 items that I would love to take home,” Lavoie said. “I have never been part of an auction with so many collectibles. These things bring back a lot of memories to people. There are a lot of interesting things up for auction that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.”