Tuesday, May 1, 2012

272 Main Street - Scott Block

Former Scott Block
Place: 272 Main / Scott Furniture Block
Address: 272 Main Street (Map)
Size: 31,526 sq. ft.
Opened: December 1904
Architect: J. H. Cadham (1904)


 Scott Furniture late 1800s premises (right) and 1904 (left)

The Scott Furniture company was created in 1872 by Thomas Scott, a retired Lieutenant Colonel who came to Manitoba with the Wolseley Expedition. Soon after it opened, David Scott - I assume a relation -  ran the company day-to-day.

Scott sold higher-end furniture to the public, but specialized in commercial and institutional customers. With one order you could outfit an entire hotel, schoolhouse or other large establishment. Business boomed as new towns were springing up almost overnight in the West thanks to railway development.

In 1885 Thomas' son Frederick W. Scott and business partner John Leslie bought the store and it became known as the Scott and Leslie Furniture Company. In 1895 Leslie left and his name was dropped.

1904 ad (source)

Business was good and Scott built a new six-storey building next door to their existing premises. The grand opening was in December 1904, just in time for Christmas.

No sooner had they settled in when disaster struck. On June 13, 1905 a freak lightning strike set the building ablaze. The fire caused extensive damage to the building, destroyed their entire stock, valued at $150,000, and injured three firemen.

On August 1 Scott set up temporary premises at the Thistle Curling Rink on Alexander Street and began work on reconstructing the damaged building.

December 8, 1905, Winnipeg Tribune

The Scott Furniture Block reopened on November 15, 1905, but found a separate location for their warehouse. This left the upper floors of the building available to rent out to office tenants, the largest of which was the Canadian Northern Railway.

In January 1909 Scott Furniture Co. closed and the Scott Block became an office building.

scott block fire
Headline: March 23, 1914, Manitoba Free Press
 Click on images for source location

On March 23, 1914 the building, which was still owned by Fred Scott, was the scene of another spectacular fire that could be seen across the city..

At the time, there were over 100 people working in the building's 25 or so offices. Nobody was killed but a number of people injured. One was dentist Fred Moffatt who jumped four storeys from his clinic into a fireman's net injuring his spine. Initially, it was thought that he would not survive his injuries but he managed to pull through. A fellow dentist severely burned his hands holding onto a hot metal pipe outside his window ledge waiting for a ladder to arrive.

The contents of the building were completely destroyed and the building lay in ruins. The fire was ruled accidental: a carelessly discarded match in the office of the Cowan Construction Company located at the rear of the ground floor.

February 12, 1916, Manitoba Free Press

In August 1915 Scott hired architects Pratt and Ross and contractors Hazleton and Wallace to reconstruct the block at a cost of around $125,000.

In January 1916 Scott began advertising office space for rent. There were numerous small tenants, lawyers, real estate agents and social agencies. The longest-lasting was A. E. Schwab Real Estate (1937 -1953) and the Manitoba Motor League (1917 - 1930). Harold Boyle spent a remarkable 49 years as the building's caretaker, retiring in 1960.

The Scott Block also had a long connection with steamship companies. In 1907 the Dominion Fish Company advertized steamer excursions around Lake Winnipeg. From 1910 - 1912 Canadian Northern Steamship Lines' ticket agent operated from there. The mighty Cunard Steamship line was located there from 1916 to 1919.

Scott Furniture Building

In 1979 National Typewriter bought the building and it became home to their Canon copier division. It was around this time that the metal facade was added. In 1996 it became Canon's IKON Office Solutions.

In 2001 IKON relocated and the building sat vacant until 2010 when Space2Work  purchased it and completely renovated the interior and restored the original 1904 / 1914 facade. It is now marketed as 272 Main Street.

Former Scott Block
UPDATE 2014:

Since this time, the building has sat empty. In June 2014 the owners applied to have the building taken off the city's Historic Buildings list with an eye to demolish the block.

New plan for heritage building Wpg Free Press (Apr 2012)
Reno highlights old-meets-new look Wpg Free Press (Oct 2010)
272 Main Street Historic Buildings Committee

The Scott Block / 272 Main Street through the years, (click image for source):

Scott Block



Scott Block Fire

Winnipeg Views c1938

scott building1961

scott building metal facade
ca. 1980


Scott Furniture Building
December 2010

272  Main Street
January 2011

Former Scott Block
August 2011


  1. I remember changing my route home from work so I could watch the crews remove the ugly slats from the building.

  2. I had known for quite some time about the Romanesque fa├žade under the ugly aluminum cover (I'd seen the old photos). I LONGED that they would remove it. Guess wishing hard enough made it so. Now on to other buildings...

  3. Maybe they can get a draw for ppl to buy condos if they had a gallery in the first floor? Draw the culture aspect there. The galleries in the exchange are always looking for new sites on ground floors...like my work...Urban Shaman Gallery. Just a thought?

  4. Maybe they can get a draw for ppl to buy condos if they had a gallery in the first floor? Draw the culture aspect there. The galleries in the exchange are always looking for new sites on ground floors...like my work...Urban Shaman Gallery. Just a thought?