Thursday, April 2, 2020

240 Chestnut Street - Ches-Way Apartments

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: Ches-Way Apartments
Address: 240 Chestnut Street at Honeyman (Map)
Built: 1909 and 1937
Contractor: Wallace and Akins (1937)

The Ches-Way Apartments was built in two stages. The original building is the large house located at 797 Broadway* built circa 1909. The adjoining brick structure facing Chestnut Street was constructed in 1937  

*The street's name was changed to Honeyman Avenue when Broadway was rerouted at Maryland Street to connect with Portage Avenue in 1960. The "Ches" and "way" serve as a reminder of the original name of the intersection.

Early Residents

- According to Henderson Directories, the first resident of the eight room house was was John Fumerton and family. He was vice president of Thomas H. Lock and Co. a wholesale grocery business at 197 Bannatyne Street.

- After just a couple of years, it became the family home of Alexander Calder. He was a long-time railway and steamship ticket agent and sometimes employment agent for the CPR. He was well-known in the city having been in operation here since 1880. In 1911, not long after Calder moved in it was announced that his son, A. B. Calder, who had been the CPR's general ticket agent in Chicago, was returning to Winnipeg to join his father's business.

- A longer term owner came in 1912 with Dr. Charles Hunter, his wife Louise, and family. The physician taught at the U of M's Medical School and had a practice on the 7th floor of the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue. He served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps overseas During World War I reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and when he returned, resumed his practice and moved form the home. (More about Hunter below.)

- The final owner of the house as a single family dwelling was William J. Thompson and family starting around 1919. Thompson was an accountant at the firm Geo. G Lennox. In 1924, presumably while still owned by Thompson, the bank foreclosed on the mortgage. (I cannot say for certain that it was Thompson who went bankrupt. In 1919, around the time the Thompsons moved in, the house was advertised as 'for rent' by the same realty company that advertised it for sale in 1924. It could be that the Thompsons rented it and the owner went bankrupt.)

The house was put up for sale in 1924 and Henderson Directory of 1926 lists it as a six-room rooming house.

Interestingly, all of the tenants were women. They included: Edith Turland, Eatons employee; Mrs. Jesse Simpson, nurse; Flora Moore, milliner at 160 Stafford Street; Helen Brown, stenographer with the provincial government. The all-female lineup continued in 1927.

May 13, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

The name "Ches-Way Apartments", referring to the house, first appears in January 1928 advertisements taken out by developers and property management firm T. A. C. Akins, later known as Wallace and Akins.

In 1935, the company took out a $500 building permit to put concrete piles under the house.

In mid-April 1937, Wallace and Akins began construction on an addition to the Ches-Way that would face Chestnut Street and incorporate the original house. The two storey with full basement extension was built of brick and reinforced concrete and contained nine additional suites.

Though this was a smaller construction project, it an another block that started construction around the same time on Vaughan Street were, according to the Winnipeg Tribune, the first two apartment blocks to start construction in the city since the stock market crash of October 1929.

October 22, 1937, Winnipeg Tribune

The new, 15-unit Ches-Way opened around September 1937. For a few years the house was referred to as the Ches-Way Annex and retained its Broadway address but now the legal address for the combined building is 240 Chestnut Street.

The building appears to have had a quiet existence over the decades until a fire in January 2018 caused it to be evacuated. The fire damage was limited, but there was smoke and water damage to a number of suites. The building never reopened.

More on Dr. Charles Hunter

Hunter was born in 1873 in Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen before coming to Winnipeg. He was a a prominent physician by the time he moved to 797 Broadway with an office on the 7th floor of the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue.

Dr. Hunter enlisted to serve in the First World War with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Based in England, he quickly rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel and distinguished himself with his work as an inspector of Canadian military hospitals and examining thousands of casualties as part of the military's Medical Board.

In 1917, Hunter made a presentation to the Royal College of Medicine about two English boys, 8 and 10, who suffered from a rare form of dwarfism that was sometimes referred to at the time as "gargoyleism". That presentation led to research into the genetic disorder and it was eventually named Mucopolysaccharidosis type II or "Hunter's Syndrome". (For more about Hunter's role, see his entry in The Man Behind the Syndrome by P and G Beighton, which is also the source of the above image.)

Upon his return, Hunter resumed his practice, though by that time Marjorie had already relocated to an apartment block. This was common during the war when the "man of the house" went overseas.

Described in Manitoba Medicine: A Brief History as "a short, irascible Scot", he became a popular lecturer and continued to teach at the U of M Medical School until 1933. He was then made professor emeritus.

Hunter continued his practice until 1922 and died in March 1955 at the age of 82. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

A collection of Hunter's papers are at the University of Manitoba College of Medicine Archives.

For more images of the Ches-Way Apartments.

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