Taken the morning of March 20, 1930, this photo details the aftermath of the last destructive fire in downtown Chilliwack, with the remains of the original Skelton Building obscured by smoke on the right. (Chilliwack Museum and Archives Collection, Photo Number 1976.018.007)

Taken the morning of March 20, 1930, this photo details the aftermath of the last destructive fire in downtown Chilliwack, with the remains of the original Skelton Building obscured by smoke on the right. (Chilliwack Museum and Archives Collection, Photo Number 1976.018.007)

Skelton Building in downtown Chilliwack getting much-needed restoration

Yellow fencing surrounds the building on Wellington Avenue as it waits for work to begin

Yellow construction fencing has gone up around three former businesses on Wellington Avenue in downtown Chilliwack, causing some to wonder if the historic Skelton Building is coming down.

But Chilliwack mayor Ken Popove took to social media July 16 to say that’s not the case.

The center building was built at Five Corners by Robert Skelton in 1930 and was the longtime home of Gord-Ray Men’s Wear. Its history runs too deep to just sweep away, Popove said, and the building should be preserved.

“It’s not a teardown, it’s a rebuild,” he said. “We want to bring the Skelton Building and its two neighbors back to their 1930s glory.”

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A detailed account of the building exists online at facebook.com/chilliwackhistory/posts/chilliwacks-skelton-building-built-to-last-one-of-the-more-familiar-buildings-in/1619425428335585/

According to that page, the current building was constructed in a hurry in 1930 after a fire on March 20, 1930 wiped out the wood-framed building that housed R.G. Skelton and Son Men’s Wear. The brick-and-steel replacement was ready by June, described as nearly fireproof.

The top of the new building included a concrete facade that remains today with the words ‘SKELTON BLDG 1930.’

It also featured the tile mosaic you can still see outside of the building’s recessed entrance.

Robert Skelton died in 1935 and son Clifford owned the business until 1961 until he sold it to long-time Chilliwackians Gordon Wiltshire and Raymond Nelson. Gord-Ray Men’s Wear occupied the Skelton space until closing in June of 2021.

Popove said the building’s journey to restoration will start with the removal of dirty and weathered awnings, and proceed from there.

But he reiterated the building isn’t being demolished.

“Those awnings will come down to really show you the historic features of these three buildings,” Popove explained. “We want to preserve our past, and the Skelton building for sure is part of our past.”


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The newly completed Skelton Building in June of 1930. (Chilliwack Museum and Archives Collection, Photo Number PP502123)

The newly completed Skelton Building in June of 1930. (Chilliwack Museum and Archives Collection, Photo Number PP502123)