Tuesday, August 30, 2005

393 Wellington Crescent

This large stone and stucco building with the half-timbering over the upper levels, was the last home of Mark Fortune. Built in 1910, it was his residence for two years. Mark Fortune and his son, Charles, perished aboard the Titanic. Mrs. Fortune and her daughters, who had left the house for a happy European vacation, survived the Titanic, and returned to Winnipeg, widowed and fatherless. The Fortune house has been divided into suites and its original interior is completely destroyed. A coach house with a deep basement still stands on the riverbank behind the mansion.Courtesy: Alan Hustak, Canada

Fortune Family

Mr Mark Fortune was born on 2 November 1847 in Carluke, Wentworth County, Ontaria, Canada.

The son of a farmer, Mark Fortune was a self made man with a bank account that matched the family name. Lured to California by inflated dreams when he was still a teenager, he spent several years in San Fransisco. In 1871 he moved to the new Canadian province of Manitoba, where he married Mary McDougald from Portage la Prarie and they had six children: Robert, Clara, Ethel Flora, Alice Elizabeth, Mabel, and Charles Alexander. They lived at 393 Wellington Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

He made his money speculating in real-estate, buying property along the Assiniboine River. When Winnipeg's main thoroughfare, Portage Ave. was surveyed it ran through much of Fortune's property and his prosperity was assured. He served as a Winnipeg City Councillor and was a trustee of Knox Presbyterian Church. His contemporaries remembered him as brash and self confident, "probably the most expert of Winnipeg's curlers. His judgement was sound, his discrimination keen, his life purpose high." In 1911 Fortune built a substantial 36 room tudor-style mansion, which although converted into three condominums, still stands at 393 Wellington Crescent. Mark Fortune never travelled anywhere without a Winnipeg Buffalo Coat, a heavy, motheaten fur garment. His wife tried to talk him out of packing so useless a piece of clothing on a trip to Egypt, but he considered it a talisman and wouldn't listen. The night Titanic sank, he came up on deck wearing it, joking that the coat had indeed come in handy in the cold night.

In 1912 Mark and his family travelled through Europe on a vacation. The two eldest children stayed behind. On the tour they met William T. Sloper who, it seems, was so taken with Alice that he decided to cancel his passage on the Mauretania and travel instead on the Titanic.

The fortune family boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers (ticket number 19950, £263). They occupied cabins C-23-25-27.
Mark and Charles were lost in the sinking, their bodies were never recovered.

The chimes which still peal in Winnipeg's Knox United Church were installed and dedicated to his memory.
Courtesy: Alan Hustak, Canada

Bridge Drive In

For over 45 years BDI has been winnipeg's favorite ice cream palor. You can take a walk over the bridge to quiet Kingston Row. It's a great place to hang out and talk but if you ask me the ice cream tastes like plastic.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Purple House #2

Charming, renovated kitchen is where family shares joys, sorrows

Sun Aug 28 2005

Room for Change/Connie Oliver

Charming renovated kitchen is where family shares joys, sorrows
(Part 2 in a series of 3)
LAST week we met Laurie and Willie Goetz who were kind enough to allow us into their charming East Kildonan home. The couple has maintained the architectural integrity of their 1921 home wherever possible. The high ceilings, large decorative trim, arched doorways and hardwood floors are at the heart of what this home is all about and also why the Goetz family loves it so.

The family's antiques and collectibles are in keeping with the essence of this house and are wonderfully displayed and accented. The only room that has had a major overhaul is the kitchen. Blending a new style with existing vintage design is a daunting task, but one that the Goetzes did beautifully.

The plan

In planning their design the couple spent some time poring over magazines and kitchen pamphlets to get some ideas of the type of style that would suit their needs and the homes character. Laurie advises me that they made a very conscious effort to tie in the kitchen to the age and the character of an older home. They compiled a list of all of their favourite features, details and finishes and were happy that they agreed on almost every point.

"Once we decided on our cabinet design and type, we got several quotes from different cabinet makers and were amazed at the different range in price quotes that we received," says Laurie. "I would always encourage others to get more than one estimate. It totally pays off, especially when you're on a tight budget. While we planned to do much of the work ourselves, we did go with a professional company to custom build our cabinets." I commend the Goetzes on their choice to have the cabinets custom made. The irregular layout of the kitchen and the angled ceiling are a challenge, even to professionals. The outcome is spectacular and well worth the additional cost, in my view. They did save money by installing the custom cabinets once they were ready.


With the cabinets ordered and being built, Willie and the couple's four boys had the greatest time gutting the old existing kitchen. Tearing down walls and ripping out cabinets is a job that these young men could really sink their teeth into and it's nice that the entire family could be involved in some way. Working within the existing outer walls, the couple was able to expand the kitchen space opening walls at the dining room entrance, the mud room entrance and the stairway area to the second floor. Willie made the extra effort to arch the main doorway (from the dining room) giving it an Old World feel. Fluted casings were added around all of the new entryways and were painted with an antiqued finish similar to the cabinets. The couple decided to keep the original pot-bellied stove as a unique feature in their new kitchen. "We hired a stone worker to apply an amazing cultured stone finish on the one piece behind the old stove," says Laurie " and we use it all winter to add warmth and a cosy ambience to the room."

This added feature took more time and labour, but is well worth the effort. It really supports the vintage look that the couple was going for.

Helping hands

On a large job such as this it's nice to have help along the way. Willie installed a heating floor system in preparation for new ceramic tile flooring before his brother, Sieg, installed the ceramic tile flooring. When the cabinets were ready, these two handymen installed them. Their friend, Henry, built the hood fan per the couple's design and once installed, Laurie put a coat of Venetian plaster over top to match the plaster finish she created on the stairs. All the windows have been replaced and most of the openings enlarged. Some new windows were added as well where there were none. The kitchen is on the west side of the house, so the couple wanted to bring in as much light as possible.


"Our brushed stainless-steel appliances were purchased new," advises Laurie. "In our 20 years of marriage, we have never owned a new appliance, not even a toaster. I was so thrilled that I hugged my oversized fridge until the delivery man asked me politely to move aside so he could carry in my new gas stove convection oven," Laurie chuckles. I think most women know how this situation feels. While I have had new toasters over the years, the new appliance bug still hits me from time to time.

Finishing touches

Laurie shopped around to find the perfect counter stools for their gorgeous granite countertop and chose an amazing Tiffany-styled light fixture to hang over the breakfast nook. New co-ordinating dishes and flatware complement some of Laurie's vintage pieces that she wasn't ready to part with. A caramel-coloured paint was applied to the walls and complements the warm tones of the space.

Doing a major renovation job yourself can be a lesson in patience. A kitchen job is especially taxing because of the lack of cooking space available during the work phase. "Dust and clutter seemed to spread throughout every room," remembers Laurie. "Because we were doing most of the work ourselves, things obviously took much more time than they would have had we hired out. Many of these months we were doing dishes in the upstairs bathroom or eating out of paper plates," she says. "You can only imagine trying to feed four constantly hungry boys under these circumstances." To keep her composure during the difficult times Laurie took long walks or bike rides when possible.

The entire renovation took about six months, which isn't bad considering all that was accomplished. There are still some minor details to tend to, but for the most part the kitchen is functional and beautiful.

"Our kitchen has truly become the heart of our home," says Laurie. "It is where we share meals with our family and friends, share life's joys and sorrows, laughter and tears. It is where after-school snacks are devoured and homework is done. It is where quiet reading on a cold blustery winter day (and we have plenty of those) in the middle of winter with a wood fire burning brings a sense of comfort," she says fondly. Now that the kitchen reno is complete, I can only assume that it was all worth it. Laurie is delighted with her new kitchen, but said: "Just don't ask if I'd ever do it again."

The Purple House #1

Everyone in the neighbourhood knows this home by name

Sun Aug 21 2005

Connie Oliver (Winnipeg Free Press)- Room For Change

IS there a house in your neighbourhood that stands out more than the rest? A house that commands attention by passersby and spurs interest and wonder? Well, "the purple house" in this week's feature is the envy of its neighbourhood. This 1921 home has character galore, but the homeowners' special touches are what make this home wonderfully unique. Everyone refers to it as "the purple house" so the homeowners made a sign for their fence embracing the name.

The vivid purple colour of the house makes a stunning backdrop to the whimsical floral garden which is a story unto itself. I will cover this enchanting garden in more detail in the near future.

Laurie and Willie Goetz first spotted this home some 15 years ago and had a strong desire to purchase it. The seller's price was very high for the market at that time and so the Goetz family had to pass on the purchase. Laurie was very disappointed about the turn of events, as she really felt a connection to the home and knew that it could be wonderful. Seven years later, the house was up for sale again. This time, though, the house went unsold. By that time the house needed some major work and was on the market so long that the sellers finally removed the "for sale" sign, having had no offers. The Goetz family began dreaming about owning this character home once again and approached the owners when the sign came down. The asking price was much more reasonable this time around, so Laurie and Willie finally purchased the home. Laurie was ecstatic that the house was finally theirs because she had always felt that this house was "home." That was eight years ago and the Goetzes have charged full steam ahead to make this home their own.

Much to do

The house needed work inside and out, but that didn't deter this creative couple. Luckily, Willie is an independent window and siding contractor so they were able to replace 38 of the home's 40 windows for a reasonable price. Many of the window openings were widened to accommodate more modern window designs. Arched and mullioned windows mimic the arched doorways in the home and flood the main floor with natural light. An oversized bow window in the dining room was a recent addition that one would swear was original to the house. It's a wonderful feature and is the focal point of this large room.

The layout of the house is spacious and unique. From the front sitting room (which is more like a formal porch) to the arched doorways and high ceilings, this home is very inviting. You just can't match the character of these older homes.

Laurie is a lover of antiques and collectibles and it shows in her lovely decor. Passing through the formal porch to the interior of the home, the first thing you see is a charming collection of tiny cuckoo clocks set on a painted backdrop of a faux iron fence and garden. Laurie is a talented gal and hand-painted this entire wall. The painted faux fence mimics the design of her real wrought iron fence, which is a nice detail.

Living large

The large formal living room is attractive with medium-toned sage green walls and cream-coloured trim and mouldings. Most of the antique furniture, as well as the flooring, is dark, so this wall colour is the perfect choice. It's rich, yet light enough to balance the dark furniture. Wall colour is crucial to ambience so white walls just wouldn't cut it here. The pink Victorian sofa is a recent addition, a stunning centrepiece in this room. It blends well with the upholstery on the more contemporary sofa, as well as with the floral area carpet. Laurie purchased this sofa at an antique shop for $400, an amazing price considering its age, great condition and the luxury of a down-filled seat cushion. I have to say that it's my favourite piece in the home. There's a very English Country feel to this room that's most appealing and welcoming. You immediately want to sit and have a cup of tea or read a good book upon entering this living room. That's a real testament to Laurie's great decor choices.

The sizable dining room houses a large dining room suite with ease. Laurie and Willie recently purchased the entire nine-piece set at an auction for $400. (I see a pattern here!) and it's the perfect style and size for this vintage home. The lovely, hand-painted glass lighting fixture, another garage sale find, is a unique piece that suits the decor beautifully. Laurie got it for a song because one of the glass shades was broken and missing a piece of the glass. Having not found anyone who could repair it, Laurie took it upon herself to do her own repair using, of all things, a piece of plastic from an ice-cream pail. She needed material that was translucent and pliable and the plastic from this pail fit the bill. She cut a patch that matched the hole, then painted over the area mimicking the floral pattern. It's a pretty good repair job that I wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't pointed it out. This is great example of how a little ingenuity can make things work for your decor and your budget.

Special touches

There are so many lovely details in this home that I had to walk around a few times to take it all in. Vintage lampshades, oval antique picture frames, stunning artwork and antique accessories all come together to give every corner of every room interest and charm. Even their pet budgie has a Victorian-styled bird cage that is in keeping with the decor.

Melding old with new

The original kitchen was quite dated and dark, so the couple totally gutted and renovated it into a wonderful, workable space. We'll look at the kitchen renovation in detail next week. Stay tuned.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Wellington Crescent

Lofts at Bannatyne

"In 1904, Joseph Maw and Thomas Kelly started development of a six story wharehouse building to be named the Kelly Building. Nearly 100 years later, this proud warehouse has been completely restored and moves into the next century as "The Lofts on Bannatyne".

The Lofts is an example of the romanesque revival style of architecture prominent during the 1880s. Construction was brick with rusticated stone used around the windows and doors. Large arches atop upper floor windows were a trademark of this design."

I recently took a trip to Winnipeg during the "Doors Open Winnipeg" Event in May of this year and toured the "Lofts at Bannatyne". I thought this building project was much more professional than the "Fairchild lofts" on princess street; although the progress of the Fairchild Lofts was only in the early stages of completion. I would much rather live in the Lofts at Bannatyne than the Fairchild Lofts mostly because of the better location (near exchange district) and the larger more professional feel of it. I do like the idea of "Loft Living", It is an opportunity to live uptown and have little need for transportation if you work near downtown.

Below are some pictures of one of the lofts I looked at in the Bannatyne Lofts

Dalnavert Museum

Preserving History-By Jesse

Threatened with demolition in 1970, 100-year-old Dalnavert was saved by the Manitoba Historical Society and by 1974 was restored to its former elegance. The house has been furnished with time-appropriate furniture, preserving its original beauty. This National and provincial historic site at 61 Carlton Street is perfect example of Queen Anne Rivival Architecture. Dalnavert is the restored home of Sir Hugh John Macdonald, lawyer, Premier of Manitoba in 1900, later Police Magistrate for Winnipeg, and son of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Like similar well-to-do family homes of that time, Dalnavert is opulently decorated and full of treasured objects. It was one of the first homes in Canada to have fully functional hot and cold water faucets and electricity. This splendid red brick house was built in 1895 and is one of the few remaining examples of the work of architect Charles H. Wheeler. Named "Dalnavert" after the birthplace of Hugh John’s maternal grandmother in Scotland, it is a reminder of Winnipeg’s first affluent neighbourhoods.

Below is the stained glass window found in the formal entrance depicting the Macdonald family crest

1021 Wellington

Stately Prominence-Written by Gloria Taylor, Winnipeg Free Press

ONE of the stately mansions of the city that has housed some of Winnipeg's most prominent families is on the market. And with its rich detailing, spacious rooms and unique architectural amenities such as attached maid's quarters, the home at 1021 Wellington Cres. offers a glimpse at life as it was enjoyed by its affluent homeowners through the years.

The house was built by Lount Construction in 1933. At the time, a good part of the Crescent on the banks of the Assiniboine River, in what was always pricey real estate when compared with other parts of the city, had already been built up.

A two-storey house with ornamental masonry faca de and curved paved stone driveway, the home has through the years been owned by some of the most wealthy of Winnipeg's citizens, families with the names of Sures, Smith, Peterson, Halter, Sifton and Asper.Isreal Asper

Fred Sures, among other business interests, manufactured sports equipment; Harold and Josephine Smith were involved in the grain industry, while Theo Peterson, married to Edna Peterson, made his mark in the insurance industry. Aubrey Halter was a lawyer who lived in the house with his wife Nona. Graham Sifton, the one-time owner of the Manitoba Free Press, the forerunner of today's Winnipeg Free Press, owned the house at one time as did the Asper family in more recent days.

"It's one of the great estates of Winnipeg," remarks Tom Hayward, realtor with Century 21 Bachman & Associates on a recent tour of the 5,133-square-foot house and manicured 1.7-acre grounds. And, admittedly, with an asking price of $1.9 million and annual gross taxes of $28,688 last year, it's a home too rich for most bank accounts. In fact, it's the kind of property that owners or corporations might buy outright rather than float a mortgage, adds Hayward.

To viewers or even drivers who peer through the stone gates as they pass by, the home is a classic example of the traditional elegance that many think of when they contemplate the grand old homes of Wellington Crescent.

The liberal use of oak and carved oak doors help to define the character of the home. A massive solid oak door opens onto a front entry with marble floors. Through more arched double doors, you find yourself standing on "pegged" oak plank floors, that have been extended all throughout the main floor.

Hayward explains that the floor boards are actually fastened with the pegs rather than the more common nails, giving the floors a distinctive pattern.

Some of the wall surfaces meanwhile are what the realtor refers to as "rough cast plaster" and feature a pattern that Hayward says must have been created by hand.

Arched "Palladian style" windows with distinctive diagonal leading, coved ceilings, a built in wet bar with a "hammered" brass sink in the family room next to a window-intensive sunroom, a heated outdoor pool flanked by a large screened summer house with change rooms, and one-time maid's quarters help define the essence of the house. The windows are a mix of old and new, some having been replaced through the years. Newer windows however have been crafted in the arched and leaded style of the originals so are indistinguishable from the old in appearance.

Ask the realtor how many bedrooms there are in the house, and he responds that there are six "if you count the maid's quarters." What Hayward is referring to is a section of the house designed for privacy and quick access by domestic workers and one that is accessed by stairs flowing off the kitchen.

Today's real estate brochure refers to that area as the mezzanine. Privacy was also extended to the family members because of the configuration when they were spared the sight of the workers having to traipse through the main rooms of the house to get to the kitchen area.

"The help could come down the stairs to the kitchen without disturbing the family or their guests in the other rooms," Hayward said. "Now, it would be a great private space for the kids," he adds.

The master bedroom, two other bedrooms and a room that could double as a den or nursery can be found on the carpeted second storey. Like the kitchen, the master bedroom en suite has been renovated over the years, and today boasts marble walls, a marble counter top with undermount sink, marble and glass block shower stall and whirlpool tub.

The white kitchen features plenty of cupboard and storage space, granite topped island, tray ceiling with pot lights, breakfast bar, built-in SubZero fridge, Thermador gas cooktop and double wall ovens, Maytag dishwasher, Jenn-Air trash compactor, garburetor, Grohe fixtures and stairs spilling down to the finished lower level.

There are two separate eating areas or breakfast rooms flowing off the kitchen, one in the new wing that was added to the house sometime after it was built. There is also evidence that the present brick envelope was not part of the original Tudor-style house but the brick veneer was added around 1943 when the city authorized a permit for renovations.

A double detached garage at back -- one of two garages on the property -- features living quarters that have been built over the carports. The living quarters, that are accessed by an outdoor steel staircase, includes a kitchenette, three-piece bath, air conditioning, electric heat and private balcony.

"It would be a good space to rent to a math student," quips Hayward. The lower level contains a rec room, billiards room, bathroom, den, laundry room and a holdover from past decades: an incinerator, from the days when the hired help would burn the trash. Though those days are long gone, the beautiful and ornate incinerator chimney remains as a reminder of the past.

The house was one of two city properties listed for $1.9 million in September, and if either vendor is successful in selling their home for its MLS asking price, it could set a sales record in the province.

Peter Squire, of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board, said the most anyone has ever paid for a Manitoba house is $1.7 million, and that was for another Wellington Crescent property. But he doesn't expect either house to be sold for its asking price given that that high end homes generally don't change hands for their list price.

There were six properties in the province that were selling for $1 million or more in September.

To view 1021 Wellington Crescent go to http://webview360.com/territory/listingPage.jsp?oid=103875&territoryCode=602

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