Stretching from James Street to Stoney Creek, Barton Street was once a pillar of Hamilton’s economy. But as industry and jobs disappeared over the past four decades in this Ontario city, so did the prosperity that once defined Barton Street. In 2008, Hamilton reporter Paul Benedetti called it “a neighbourhood on life support . . . a street where the party is long over.”
But past the dusty windows and boarded up doorways there are signs of stirring. Edu-Deo Ministries, a Canadian Christian mission organization supports Christian education in developing countries, now hopes be a part of that local transformation.
When Edu-Deo, formerly Worldwide Christian Schools, was looking for office space that could also be a place for mission, it arrived at 621 Barton Street. Once full of antiques, the space is now painted with bright colours. Edu-Deo purchased the entire building and situated their offices on the top floor. There is a large boardroom and space for training. “While we focus on global transformation at Edu-Deo, we want the space that we work in to also be a vessel of transformation here in Hamilton,” said Jonathan Horlings, Edu-Deo marketing director. Over the past two months, many volunteers have donated time to renovate the space, named Campus 621. They plan to develop community space on the ground floor.
This spring, a mural by artist Tim Nijenhuis will be added to the building’s exterior facade. “We hope that the mural can be a beacon of hope to the area,” said Horlings. “There is a lot of potential for urban renewal here, and we want to be part of that renewal.” He said they are excited to see where God will lead in this part of Barton Street’s history.