Monday, September 7, 2009
Project: The White House (Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Building)
Address: 234 Portage Avenue
Status: Completed 2007
Size: 3,200 square feet
Cost: $2m (estimated)
This two-storey, terra cotta clad building was built in 1909 for the insurance firm Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner (now known as Oldfield, Kirby Esau ). Established in 1881, it was named for partners J.H. Oldfield and Walter Kirby who occupied the premises until 1980, though their main offices moved to 55 Donald Street in the early 1960's.
The next tenant was North West Trust, which became Canadian Western Bank after a corporate takeover. CWB vacated in December 2003, moving one building east.
In April 2004 Michel Fillion and a partner purchased the building and applied for an historical listing to allow them to access some heritage restoration funding. In October of 2004 the building was given a Grade II listing.
The first job was to restore the terra cotta facade. From there, it was a two-year extensive restoration of the main floor banking hall and the upstairs office space. A 2007 Free Press article quotes the owner as saying that the renovations could be as much as $2m.
In the summer of 2007 Fillion opened 234 on Portage an upscale spa on the main floor and mezzanine while the upper floor was converted into his personal office and residence. Unfortunately, 234 on Portage has since closed.
As for the name ? The White House referred to is actually a student residence in Brandon, Manitoba !
234 Portage Historic Buildings Committee Report (pdf)
234 Portage University of Manitoba Building Index
Polisihing a Gem WFP October 9, 2004
234 Portage - Historic Places Canada