Doors Open Hamilton

By Kristin Archer

It was a few months ago now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share my discoveries from the fourth Doors Open Hamilton that I’ve attended. This is a two-day event that I now look forward to every spring. It’s a chance to take a look at some incredible buildings that you may have overlooked, and tour them for free. It was a busy weekend with I Heart Hamilton’s annual bash, The Playlist 4.0, but I managed to hit two locations this year.

The Cotton Factory
The Cotton Factory

It was through Doors Open that I first visited 270 Sherman (recently rebranded as The Cotton Factory). I now jump at any chance to go, and try to make it a stop each year. It’s one of the most impressive spaces I’ve seen in Hamilton. The industrial building is now a creative industries complex of workshops, galleries, studio spaces, and offices. It houses a lot of local talent!

One of those talented tenants is Digital Canaries. Getting to tour their space was incredible – they are the site for many television and film productions and have full scale sets and props. I took their jail cell set for a spin and had way too much fun behind bars! They also have a court house set and newly added subway car.

Props inside The Cotton Factory
Props inside The Cotton Factory
Inside Digital Canaries' set at The Cotton Factory
Inside Digital Canaries’ set at The Cotton Factory

The first time I visited The Cotton Factory, there was an exhibit by art collective TH&B on display. Another installation of theirs was timed with this year’s Doors Open and I had the opportunity to view it. In fact, a weeks before, I attended a Hamilton Cocktail Showcase staged at The Cotton Factory. The event was held on the same floor as the TH&B exhibit and some of its pieces remained on display. It was nice to return during the day and take a better look.

Part of the TH&B exhibit at The Cotton Factory. Piece by Janet Morton.
Part of the TH&B exhibit at The Cotton Factory. Piece by Janet Morton.
Part of the TH&B exhibit at The Cotton Factory
Part of the TH&B exhibit at The Cotton Factory
Walking around the courtyard at The Cotton Factory
Walking around the courtyard at The Cotton Factory

On day two of Doors Open, I went in a totally different direction. I visited one of the many churches that were official sites for Doors Open – St. Nicholas’ Serbian Orthodox Church on Barton Street East. There’s been a lot of rumblings lately about the upcoming renewal of the Barton area. There are so many hidden gems on Barton and this beautiful space is one. The church is absolutely stunning; I was awestruck. It’s one of those places I just couldn’t believe has been here all along.

I learned that Hamilton’s Serbian community established a Serbian Orthodox parish in 1913, and it was the first of its kind in Eastern Canada. A church was constructed in 1917, and the current church building was constructed in 1974. The services take place standing and there are benches to sit along the perimeter. I sat there for quite a long time just to take everything in. I was grateful for the experience.

Another Doors Open for the books. This annual event makes me even more appreciative of all the unique spaces there are in Hamilton. You never know what might be on the other side of that door.

St. Nicholas' Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas’ Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas' Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas’ Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas' Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas’ Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas' Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas’ Serbian Orthodox Church
kristin
ihearthamiltontour@gmail.com
Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing an influential social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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