The Mill Flats and 83 Neeve Street: Gentrification in Action
The Speed River was not only important for mills processing agricultural products, but also for the production of textiles. In 1902, the Guelph Carpet Factory and its affiliate Guelph Spinning Mills commissioned architect W. Frye Colwill to design a new factory in Guelph. The building was completed in different stages in 1902, 1907, and 1920 on Cross Street. By the mid 1920s, it had become Guelph Carpet and Worsted Spinning Mills with 80 looms and 400 employees. This mill was located on Arthur Street which became Queen Street from 1918-1939. A common joke in Guelph was to refer to the mills as the "Queen Street College" as workers who couldn't afford to continue their education got their start in the working world here. By 1952, the Mills were named Harding Carpets and were the largest employer in Guelph with a payroll which occassionally topped 600. The mills continued operating until 1975, at which point only 100 workers remained. In 1978 Harding Carpets was closed. In 2000, the mills were converted from commercial and industrial units to residential units and became the Mill Lofts. The Mill Lofts are self described "upscale condos" in the midst of comparatively lower cost working class and student housing. As is visible from the photos on this page, the Mill Lofts building is also a prominent canvas for anti-gentrification graffiti from Ward residents less than welcoming of the upscale housing developments fast becoming features of the Ward and driving out lower income residents.
Another example of a former mill turned upscale condo development are the condos at 83 Neeve Street. At one point, this condo development was carpet and textile manufacturer. In 1877, Andrew Armstrong established the Guelph Carpet Company here. As a local point of interest, Andre Armstrong was once in business with Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's grandfather, helping to run Armstrong, McCrae & Co. Woolen Mills. In 1904 the Guelph Carpet Company's Neeve Street location expanded dramatically to facilitate a booming tapestry carpet market. As is visible from the photos posted, at its peak, the mill was far larger than the present property. In the 1990s, J. Lammer Developments purchased the closed down mill property and turned it into a condo development.