Monday, March 1, 2010

Downtown Places: 351 Assiniboine Ave

Lonely Houses - 351 Assiniboine Ave
Place: Kerr House
Address: 351 Assiniboine Avenue Map
Built: 1887


Qu'Appelle site today (north of the pine trees)
Winter Streets
Kerr House was originally constructed at 453 Qu'Appelle Avenue, near Central Park.

For a brief time the Central Park area was one of Winnipeg's first exclusive neighbourhoods with the green space acting as a buffer between the residences and the hustle of the Exchange District.
At this time much of the land south toward the Assiniboine River was still Hudson Bay property or the land estates of Company employees.

The houses toward Balmoral and Ellice weren't on as grand a scale as those overlooking the park but they attracted middle class professionals. Francis F Kerr and family, for whom the house was built, was the first principal of Carlton School. Their neighbours included the likes of James H. McCarthy, Winnipeg's first chief librarian and businessman / MLA Thomas Kellett.

The style of architecture is Second Empire Victorian which had been popular in Ontario for decades, likely suiting these transplanted Ontarians, but was short lived on the priaries.

After a century at that location Kerr House, by then a commercial building, was purchased by the Winnipeg School Division and slated for demolition to make way for Sister Macnamara School ground.
A preservation debate began in February 1988 and ended in May when architect Giovanni Geremia stepped in to purchase "
the little grey house" as it was known. He already owned a vacant lot at 351 Assiniboine and thought that the two would make a perfect match.

August 1989, WFP, a new beginning
On Dec 2, 1988 the house was moved through the night to it's new location (Map). Geremia spent nearly $200,000 on the move and renovation into a series of commercial spaces.
Lonely Houses - 351 Assiniboine Ave
That little replica building next to it ? That's the entrance to a stairwell leading to the lower suite !


351 Assiniboine Ave Lease Information
- DTZ Barnicke
Kerr House - City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings report
Kerr House - Heritage Winnipeg

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