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Hidden Memorial

Take a virtual tour through the old Battery Hotel

By Kathryn Lear

Remember strolling up the hill for brunch at the Battery Hotel? Or celebrating a wedding amidst the blue, yellow and red paint of the banquet hall?

A 1960s-era photo of the Battery Hotel, a large red building, on Signal Hill.
A 1960s-era photo of the Battery Hotel on Signal Hill in St. John’s.
Photo: Submitted

Diners and couples coveted the venue due to the stunning view of St. John’s harbour. Thankfully, that vista still exists.

If you’re curious about what’s happened to the old hotel since Memorial University moved in, you will soon be able to visit inside the renovated building without having to leave your home or office.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 1-2 p.m., Memorial’s Office of Alumni Engagement together with Conference and Event Services will take you on a virtual tour of the Emera Innovation Exchange (EIX) to help celebrate the third anniversary of Signal Hill Campus (SHC).

The Emera Innovation Exchange on Signal Hill Campus, a grey, white and black building, is seen at dusk with downtown St. John's visible in the background with a setting sun.
The Emera Innovation Exchange on Signal Hill Campus.
Photo: Dave Howells

History lives

The virtual tour is part of a series called Hidden Memorial, which gives members of the public an inside look at the history and culture of Memorial’s buildings and campuses and exploring how Newfoundland and Labrador’s essence is woven into the faces and places within the walls.

A previous episode, Hidden Memorial: Harlow Campus, can be viewed online.

“The facility provides an environment for chance encounters, collisions and conversation.” –Jeremy Bryant

The former Battery Hotel, which is now the Emera Innovation Exchange, has been an iconic structure overlooking the city of St. John’s since the 1960s. Its first iteration was a drive-in motel and a gas bar.

Memorial purchased the building in 2013. Between 2015-18, significant renovations and demolition were done.

Jeremy Bryant, prime consultant and project architect, Lat49 Architecture, says that while the decision to work with the original buildings was a sustainable choice, it also speaks to the great tradition of passing down knowledge.

“Here the juxtaposition of old and new acknowledges the history and importance of this place,” Mr. Bryant said.

“The facility provides an environment for chance encounters, collisions and conversation – all important ingredients in generating innovation and engaging a new generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

History transformed

Jordan Wright (BA’05, MBA’08), director of Operations, Conference and Event Services at SHC, will host the virtual event along with Amy Henderson (M.Mus.’08) executive director of Business and Arts N.L.

As part of the project management team that helped establish Signal Hill Campus, Mr. Wright says he is “delighted” with the old hotel’s transformation and what has been created on the hill.

“All of the partner units located in the EIX, as well as the Johnson Geo Centre, contribute to not only the university community, but the community at large,” he said.

“It has been a challenging year-and-a-half and we have not been able to welcome as many individuals and groups into the building as we had hoped, but we are looking forward to presenting this virtual tour that will help others get a glimpse of Memorial’s downtown campus and learn more about what happens here.”

Register for the Hidden Memorial: Signal Hill Campus event here, free of charge. Have an idea to showcase a particular hidden gem on campus? Please email jharron@mun.ca.

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