The Travellers Hotel at 422 1st Avenue in downtown Ladysmith was built in 1913 and has been continually used as hotel since then.
The Travellers Hotel was added to the Ladysmith Community Heritage Registry in 2006. The Stevens family which owned the Travellers Hotel also owned the Ladysmith Hotel, across the street at 431 1st Avenue.
Here is a map showing the location of 422 1st Avenue:
Here is a Google Street View image of 530 1st Avenue:
Description of Historic Place
The Traveller’s Hotel is a brick, three-storey Edwardian era building located on the main thoroughfare of Ladysmith’s downtown core. The historic place is confined to the building footprint.
The large and highly detailed Traveller’s Hotel building speaks to the prosperity and optimism that existed in pre-war Ladysmith. From 1900, when it was first established as a coal trans-shipment point, to 1912, Ladysmith experienced rapid economic growth that saw the community transformed from a rough camp into a bustling urban centre. In 1912, a protracted regional coal miner’s strike brought work in the mines to a halt and Ladysmith’s first economic ‘boom’ period was effectively over. Although construction was not completed until 1913, the Traveller’s Hotel is an important tangible reminder of Ladysmith’s earliest development and the sense of possibility and progress that accompanied it.
The Traveller’s Hotel is an excellent example of an Edwardian-era, commercial style building. The symmetrical facade, simple form and massing are typical of Edwardian Classicism while the highly detailed brick facade and heavy cornices express an earlier, more exuberant Victorian aesthetic. The most striking features are the brick swastika symbols on the front facade. At the time of construction, the swastika was a relatively common symbol of prosperity and peace; during World War II, concerns were expressed about the symbol’s association with Nazism. The building was not altered in response to these concerns and the Traveller’s Hotel remains in substantially original condition.
The Traveller’s Hotel is also a tangible reminder of the social and economic importance of hotels in Ladysmith’s history. Although originally built to serve short-term guests, as its name implies, the Traveller’s Hotel also served long-term boarders. Like most mining communities, early Ladysmith had a large population of single, often
transient, men. As affordable housing alternatives, hotels functioned as living quarters and, in the bars and restaurants located on the ground floor, as social centres.
The Traveller’s Hotel is located within a grouping of historic buildings on the main thoroughfare in the commercial core. Its height and mass, especially in relation to the smaller buildings that flank it, make it a highly visible community landmark.
Character-defining elements of the Traveller’s Hotel include:
- – all of the elements of an Edwardian-era commercial building as expressed in the simple form and massing, flat roof, multi-coloured, articulated brick façade, large storefront windows, brick columns flanking the central entry, casement windows with leaded glass transoms on front façade, and ornate upper and lower pressed-metal cornices that extend the full width of the building.
- – The location of the building within a grouping of historic buildings on the main thoroughfare of the downtown core
- – The use of the ground floor for commercial purposes
- – The height of the building, especially in relation to adjacent buildings
- – The sign at the roofline with the name of the hotel
- – The brick swastika symbols on the front façade
- – The blue and white sidewalk tiles at the front entry that spell out the building’s name