Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Save Kelly House - new Facebook group

Here's a message I sent to the 1,100 members of the Demolition by Neglect Facebook group:

Dear members of the Demolition By Neglect Facebook group,

Please take a moment to join a newly created group in support of saving the Kelly House, which is currently threatened by demolition: Save Kelly House

This is a textbook case of demolition by neglect, where an owner willfully neglects his property for years, to the point that allowing demolition can be justified. The plan for the property is, unsurprisingly, a surface parking lot.

Built on Adelaide Street in 1882, the Kelly House is that last intact residential house in the Exchange District. It is a product of an era that preceded the wholesale district that would sprout up around the house in early years of the 1900s.

Aside from being the last intact house in the Exchange, the Kelly House is a rare example of Queen Anne residential architecture.

It goes without saying that the Kelly House is simply too historically significant, too architecturally stunning, and too integral a part of the Exchange District's already gap-toothed western edge, to be lost. Winnipeg cannot afford the destruction of anymore buildings for parking lots in its most valuable neighborhood.

For more information on the Kelly House, please see: Heritage Winnipeg's info on the Kelly House

Robert Galston

Photo courtesy of Manitoba Provincial Archives

Thanks to Kelly Konechny for creating this group and bringing it to my attention

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bad things happen to bad surfaces

What does $200,000 get you? A decent Craftsman style house on Jessie or Warsaw, a five minute walk off the Corydon strip can still be had for that price. Or one could procure their very own archway to prop over their street.

Less than 24 hours after being unveiled, one Fort Rouge resident notes, this arch has been hit by graffiti. How is that the great sculpted works in the city's public spaces have stood for years--even while being ignored by civic officialdom--without ever being defaced by graffiti? Mayberry Fine Art has had a statue of a horse sitting on the McDermot Avenue sidewalk near Main for several years without so much as a Sharpie taken to it.

I don't give vandals much credit, but it seems that even the most depraved young hood can recognize (if only subconsciously) the difference between quality and deficiency, real and fake, beauty and ugliness.

Anyway, the easy access for taggers to the structure by the steel beams will be solved, as stucco is going to be applied to them. I suppose this is to keep with the bogus "Little Italy" theme of the neighborhood. Good thing the arch says "Corydon Avenue" on it... I'd probably think I'm no longer in Winnipeg, but walking down la strada in bella vecchia Napoli.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Come on down!

Nick Hill was not the first North Main merchant to offer clearance sales. Here is a notice published in The Nor'wester, May 13, 1865:

Found at my new favorite website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"WE SHALL HAVE FAILED, and the blood of our dearest will have flowed in vain, if the victory which they died to win does not lead to a lasting peace founded on justice and established in goodwill. To that, then, let us turn our thoughts on this day of just triumph and proud sorrow; and then take up our work again, resolved as a people to do nothing unworthy of those who died for us and to make the world such a world as they would have desired, for their children and for ours."

- His Majesty King George VI, May 8, 1945

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Thanks to Adrian at for getting a shot of the crowning achievement of Centre Venture's "Heart of Gold" plan for downtown's main thoroughfares--parkades built with all the charms the Nazi army put into machine gun nests on the Normandy coast.

Not even the City's design review board could love this one. One local architect reported on a forum:
"i... heard today that the downtown design review board rejected the design for the [WRHA] parkade on main steeet, but it proceeded anyways... now the city (planning department) is up in arms about it and want something done... wait until it is finished to do something about it... its 2 blocks from city hall for goodness sake... you didnt see it every day?... i am sure they will have to use the plastic covered chain link fence between the floors now instead of just regular."

Because it is an ugly failure--an open parkade on a main downtown thoroughfare--Centre Venture will claim to have nothing to do with it--they merely came up with the idea to develop a parkade of that size and on that site, and were the ones that approved the builder's bid. Blame WRHA, blame Stantec Design, blame the builder, blame Planning or some other City department...

Way to go, everyone. The truth is, you all played a part. And if incompetence were a commodity, Winnipeg would be Chicago of the North.


This whole thing brings up the relevancy of the Downtown Design Review Board: if they have no teeth to prevent parkades on Main Street, what is the point of having this Board? Any consulting firm or architecture critic could make "recommendations" to building designers, at less cost to the City.