Media Release

February 5, 2021

King Street business property designated as having cultural heritage value

Early Connection to the Black Mecca

Chatham Kent Council voted to support the designation of 201-203 King Street, Chatham, deemed to have cultural heritage value, on October 19, 2020.  As a result of this decision, current and future property owners will ensure that this property is both protected and preserved in perpetuity.

Chatham Kent has several designated properties associated with the establishment of black settlement including properties in North Buxton, Dresden and Chatham, however, the “Boyd Block” at 201-203 King Street is its most recent designation. 

This property has significant historic value as well as a strong connection with Grandison Boyd, a prominent black resident of Chatham who is a key associative figure in Chatham’s development as the “Black Mecca”.

Grandison Boyd built his three-storey brick commercial block building along the Thames River in the late 1860s or early 1870s.  It is interesting and significant to note that, while there was no official segregation of businesses in Chatham, most Black entrepreneurs operated east of William Street.  Boyd, however, built his block along the predominant white section of King Street West.

Boyd was not only a prosperous merchant, but he was also a community leader and political activist.  In 1874, the annual Emancipation Day parade in Chatham was cancelled and replaced by a major protest to promote Black rights. The Chairperson of the protest was Grandison Boyd.

Designated properties need to meet one of three criteria for designation; architectural merit, historic or associative value or contextual significance.  This property’s association with Grandison Boyd provides historic or associative value when considering its merit for designation.

It could also be argued that this 1860-1870s building, with 1930s, art deco façade has architectural merit and the building’s location and prominence on King Street West provides contextual significance as it serves as a landmark.

Current owner of the Boyd Block, Chatham-proud, Pete Tsirimbis, says that he appreciates the architecture and history of the building. “Having family who are stewards of buildings and having a background in history and business have taught me to pay homage to the past and to continue in our goal of revitalizing the downtown Chatham core.”

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For more information contact: 

Anthony Jas
Planning Services
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998
 
Media Contact:
Jim Blake
Communications Officer
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3624

jimbl@chatham-kent.ca

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