Demonstration to save the BENS Restaurant building
When: Thursday June 14th 2007, 12:00pm
Where: In front of BENS Restaurant 990 De Maisonneuve Boulevard, corner of Metcalfe Street (Metro Peel)
Art Déco Montréal and Pop Montreal wish to convene the citizens of Montreal and the members of the press in order for Montrealers to show the City their support in making the BENS Restaurant building a Heritage Building.
Speakers and performers will include: Jack Gaiptman (Art Déco Montréal), Socalled (musician), Dave Sanders (singer-songwriter), Carl Alacchi (multi-disciplinary artist) & Tim Rideout (filmmaker).
BENS Restaurant-Deli building, a classic example of Streamlined Modern design, is being sold to a developer who plans to demolish it. The sale is to be made official June 19th, 2007. While there is presently an exhibition at our internationally acclaimed Montreal Museum of Fine Arts called American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow, the developer, Sam Benatar, was quoted in the Gazette as saying that the building “isn’t worth anything”, and the City stands by in silence as plans go forward to demolish this classical and beautiful public example of Streamlined architecture.
Ben and Franny Kravitz opened BENS Delicatessen in 1908. It moved to its current building in 1950 where it remained open until 2006. Designed by Charles Davis Goodman (1894-1962), he was one of the architects of such well-known Montreal buildings as the Laurentien Hotel (1948), the Jewish General Hospital (1931) and the Pascal Hardware Building (1948). Goodman, a McGill University graduate, was elected a fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1955.
BENS went on to become the meeting place favoured by luminaries such as Leonard Cohen, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Montreal Canadians hockey team and Magic Tom. Autographed celebrity photos that are still hanging in the space include those of Burl Ives, the Ink Spots, Liberace and Ed Sullivan and attest to its heyday and place in our history.
This Montreal institution is one of significant value and reflects a precious part of our history as Montrealers. The government agencies that protect our city’s heritage must intervene in order to preserve this building for future generations of Montrealers and visitors to Montreal to cherish and enjoy. It should be named a Heritage Building immediately before it is too late and Montrealers lose yet another symbol of their urban history due to the City’s silence.