Wednesday, August 27, 2014

545 Broadway - Wilson House / Klinic

Place: Wilson House
Address: 545 Broadway (Map)
Opened: 1904
Cost: $9,000
Architect: J H G Russell

Wilson house was constructed in 1904 for Robert R. Wilson and family.

An immigrant from Enniskillen, Ireland, Wilson came to Winnipeg in 1882 looking for adventure. In 1883 he took a  job as a clerk with a new grocery wholesale company called Campbell and Sutherland. He soon became its bookkeeper and, in 1900, a partner. The company then reorganized as Campbell Brothers and Wilson.

The company grew into one of the West's largest grocery businesses. In 1903 they built a warehouse at 90 Princess Street, expanding it to nearly double its size in 1912. The building is better known as the Penthouse Furniture Building.

In 1904 Wilson and his family, wife Sarah and their three children, had this house built on what is now the edge of West Broadway. The architect, J H G Russell, was the man who was responsible for designing the CB and W warehouse the year before. It is considered one of Winnipeg's finest examples of Queen Anne architecture.

In 1925 Wilson became president of the company and the family moved to a new, larger home, also designed by Russell, at 680 Wellington Crescent, (now demolished.)

Legislative Building Manitoba
Top: ca. 1935 (buflyer on Flickr)
Bottom: ca. 1922 (Manitoba Historical Society)

By this time, the neighbourhood had changed a great deal from its tree-lined, residential surroundings of 1904. Across the street was the Legislative Building (opened 1920) and Shea's Amphitheater, the MTS Centre of its day, (opened in 1909). To the east was All Saints Church (opened 1926) and the original University of Manitoba campus

The next owner was George Zyrd. He lived here but converted most of it into a rooming house for between 6 and 8 people, mostly working women; stenographers, clerks, teachers. The neighbourhood continued to get busier with the addition of Osborne Stadium (1930) and an expanded Shea's Brewery.

The house was sold again around 1930 and a series of owners ran it as a rooming house until 1948 when it was converted into office space.

June 28, 1977, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1977 Kilinic moved in. Created in 1970 as an offshoot of the General Hospital, they provided a storefront medical clinic aimed at young people hitchhiking across country and those experimenting with drugs. Over time, they began offering suicide prevention counseling and other outreach services. Their previous location was just a few doors down at Broadway and Balmoral.

Klinic's clientele and range of services continued to grow and in 1991 they relocated to a new facility on Portage Avenue near Arlington Street.

Above: ca. 1990 (Historic Buildings Report)
Below: July 15, 1990

The owner the building then applied for a demolition permit to build an L shaped strip mall that included a 24-hour convenience store. The city refused to issue it and the building sat empty for the rest of the decade. It became the target of vandals, squatters and once had a small fire set inside it.

May 18, 1999, Winnipeg Free Press

The house managed to survive and in 1999 Lion's Housing, which had already renovated a number of houses on Langside Street, bought it for $300,000. They held fundraisers for the redevelopment of the property, one hosted by home renovation television personality Debbie Travis.

A call was made for possible tenants and one of the applications was from Klinic! Things had become crowded at their new home and they were looking for more street-level space.

The home was completely gutted and a 45,000 sq foot addition added to the rear. Klinic reopened here in 2004 offering a range of services aimed at youth.

545 Broadway Historic Building Inventory
Wilson House Heritage Winnipeg
Our History Klinic

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