On March 15th 1961, construction began on the Seagram Tower. It was completed on June 1st 1962 at a cost of $1.2 million dollars.
This project was developed by Niagara Tower Limited and funded by the House of Seagram Company of Montreal. The House of Seagram was a Canadian Distillery famous for its production of “Crown Royal” whiskey.
The tower was built by Byer’s Construction Company of Montreal under the guidance of project superintendent, Ian Tindal. The designers was the Horton and Bell Architects of Kitchener, Ontario.
The tower was developed on a 1.8 acre site on the top of the moraine overlooking the Horseshoe Falls (area known as the Fallsview Tourist District).
The tower measures 99 metres tall and was 200 metres above the base of the Horseshoe Falls. The top of the flag pole is measured at 284 metres above sea level.
Weighing 19 million pounds, the Seagram Tower contains 914 cubic metres of concrete and 450,000 pounds of structural and reinforcing steel.
The 59 m tall – 9 metre diameter concrete and steel hexagon shaped column has a seven storey crown shaped – 21 metre diameter combination indoor/outdoor observation decks, restaurant, lounge, hotel and tourist facilities. The outdoor summit platform is 305 square metres in size. The fourth floor is completely enclosed in glass specially designed for taking photographs, having built in light meters and tinted glass to reduce glare and reflections.
It also contains three elevators and two stairways.
The tower was constructed utilizing a “concretor” Linden climbing crane in a “slip form” construction technique. A similar technique was later used during the building of the Skylon Tower.
During the building of the tower, the stem rose one inch every 12 minutes. Work was carried out twenty-four hours a day.
The sixty foot deep concrete and steel base was poured after a twenty foot deep hole was excavated. The base was anchored into the ground by driving 276 – “H” steel beams approximately 12.5 feet into the ground.
On September 2nd 1961 at approximately 2:30 a.m., the top of the tower caught fire when two labourers were pouring hot mix concrete to the second level of the upper crown. A tarpaulin covering freshly poured cement caught fire and quickly spread to the wooded forms and several propane tanks exploded. It took firefighters six hours to extinguish the stubborn blaze. The fire caused the 60 foot long Linden crane to topple to the ground below. Damage was estimated at a few thousand dollars.
On May 1st 1969, the tower renamed the Heritage Tower when purchased by Mr. Louis Bolus. Heritage Restaurants, a division of Versa Foods leased the restaurant facilities in the tower.
In 1971, the tower became known as the Royal Inn Tower under the ownership of Royal Inns of Canada.
On June 16th 1972, the Royal Inn Tower went bankrupt. Ownership of the tower reverted back to the Bolus Management Company.
On August 6th 1972, the Royal Inn Tower became the “Royal Center Tower” and was owned by the company of Bolus, Revelas & Bolus Limited.
In March of 1973, the name of the tower was changed to the “Panasonic Tower” by the Matsushita Electric Company of Japan. In addition, office space on the 30th floor was reserved.
On October 9th 1976, in order to prevent bankruptcy, Arthur White sold his shares of the Panasonic Tower complex, including an aquarium and museum, to Takeshi Shimizu, Canadian president of the Panasonic Company.
By December of 1976, the Panasonic Tower was in severe financial difficulty and owed $100,000 was to the City of Niagara Falls in back taxes.
On October 6th 1977, in an effort to collect back taxes from the Royal Center Incorporated, Louis Bolus closed the Panasonic Tower. Forty employees were laid-off.
On October 14th 1977, the Panasonic Tower was re-opened for business.
In January 1978, the tower was again bankrupt.
In 1980, the City of Niagara Falls threatened to take over the tower. By this time the tower owed the city approximately $320,000.
In April 1981, Betty Bolus and Len Wodlinger became the new private owners of the Panasonic Tower.
On April 10th 1984, the tower became known as the Minolta Tower.
On January 15th 1993, the Minolta Tower was sold to Radomat Holdings of Niagara Falls, New York. This company also owned the Raddison Hotel and the Holiday Inn in Niagara Falls, New York.
The Minolta Tower remains in service today.