Thursday, March 1, 2012

315 Portage Avenue - Kennedy / Mitchell Copp Building

To be demolished Spring 2012. See Centrepoint Development
Kennedy / Mitchell Copp Building

Kennedy Building / Mitchell Copp Building
Location: 315 Portage Avenue

Opened: 1906 & 1919
J. D. Atchinson
William Grace Company

December 6, 1906, Winnipeg Free Press

The Kennedy Building was constructed in 1906 for local businessman Charles William Nassau Kennedy. Originally numbered 315 - 321 Portage, it was 88 feet wide and three storeys in height, (another three could be added but never were.)

A carpenters' strike delayed the interior construction but when it did begin to open in March 1907, Kennedy had no trouble filling the space. Located right across from the new Eaton's store, that block of Portage had become one of the most sought after retail locations in the city.

An assortment of 1907 newspaper ads

Above is an assortment of 1907 newspaper ads of Kennedy Block tenants. They also included Bishop Realty (relocating from the from Hamilton Building), Wm Fingland, Architect and Engineer (relocating from 490 Main). Owner Kennedy and his partners A.W. Daly and Charles Vokes also had offices. They were agents for a number of financial and insurance companies and ran City Financial Corporation.

February 3, 1920, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1918 the Red Cross opened an office to fund raise and organize the delivery of goods for returned soldiers and their families. It quickly had to turn its attention serving those who had fallen ill from Spanish Influenza.

July 1, 1919, Winnipeg Free Press

In the 19-teens Kennedy divided the property. The 34 feet to the east was sold off to the Bank of Commerce. The western portion of the building was sold in 1920 to long-time tenant John Affleck, owner of tenant Yale Shoe Stores. Affleck paid $5,000 a foot which was a record for Portage Avenue real estate. (The west portion of the building was eventually renamed the Affleck Building.)

Clarendon Hotel, Winnipeg, c. 1950
Left to right: the Kennedy / Affleck Building, Mitchell Copp Building and Clarendon Hotel (source)

In 1919 the Bank of Commerce announced that they would begin construction on their portion of the building, now addressed 315 Portage. Carter Halls Aldinger received the $100,000 contract to remove the facade and reconstruct the office area and install a glass roof.

Mitchell Copp Building
The facade was replaced with limestone and featured two large columns to mimic the bank's headquarters on Main Street, (now the Millennium Centre.)

Mitchell Copp Building Mitchell Copp Building

The bank took up two of the retail spaces on the main floor while Liggett's Drug Store remained as the other tenant until 1927. At that point, Ligget's was gone and Fraser and MacDonald were hired to reconstruct the main floor as a single space for the bank and reduce the number of public entrances on the front to one.

Time Building fire ca. 1954 (source)

In 1954 the devastating Time Building fire destroyed three building and damaged many more, including 315 Portage. The rear windows were broken and the heat caused the skylight to cave in. In the photo above you can just make out top of the building.

Mitchell Copp Building

Another close call came in 1973 when the remaining portion of the old Kennedy Building, (by then called the Affleck Block), was severely damaged by fire. Neighbouring buildings were damaged by smoke and water. (It is sometimes written that 315 Portage's top floors were destroyed by fire but that is not the case, just the Affleck portion.)

October 7, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1958 the bank relocated to a new building on the former Time Building site. For a short time the Winnipeg Real Estate board occupied the building then in September 1969 Mitchell Copp, a well known local jeweller, opened there.

In 1981 Mitchell Copp relocated and the building sat vacant, with the exception of a short stint as home to Comic World. In 1992 a fire in the building destroyed the roof and top two storeys. It has been vacant ever since.

Source: CentreVenture

In summer 2011 Longboat Development announced a new mixed use development for Donald and Portage. Four buildings, including 315 Portage, are slated for demolition, though the intention is to incorporate the facade into the new development.

A little piece of 315 Portage through the years:

Clarendon Hotel, Winnipeg, c. 1950
Former Clarendon Hotel

My photo album of the Donalda Building
315 Portage Ave Historic Buildings Committee
Mitchell Copp Building Photo Album

1 comment:

  1. I used to go to Comic World in the late 80s at the bottom of the limestone building.

    I was just back in Winnipeg in July of this year (2012) to see them tearing it down, but I did go into O' Calcutta to buy some T shirts.