Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Marlborough had a Birthday Party !

... a 95th birthday party and I invited myself along !
Marlborough Hotel
Due to my day job I wasn't able to make it right at noon but I showed up fashionably late - still in time for some cake and to meet some of the senior staff. I didn't realize that there were tours involved - oh well, the 100th is around the corner and it's usually part of Doors Open.
The Marlborough doesn't receive the attention that, say, the Fort Garry does as an historic hotel, (and to be fair the building hasn't received the same TLC). Nonetheless, whenever I go I am always struck at the attention showed to the history of the building.

The historic eating rooms - Churchill's and Johanna's - are very well preserved and the building's history is celebrated through dozens of photographs, plaques, newspaper articles framed on the walls. Next time you pass by, or grab lunch at Johanna's as an excuse to visit, definitely take a look-see.

I was planning on pulling up some old tidbits and newspaper ads from the day but in an odd archival meltdown equinox the Winnipeg Free Press archives is trying to convince me that I am not a subscriber (which certainly
isn't odd), the newspaper archive at Manitobia AND the U of M Tribune archives all seem to be inaccessible ?!

c 1920s as The Olympia Hotel, post-the six storey expansion. The Kensignton Building, which housed the Olympia Café, is in the foreground.

Here's what I know:

The owners of the Olympia were four Italians, Panaro, Emma and the Badali Brothers, who came to Winnipeg in the 1890s and built food retailing businesses. The Badalis occupied a fruit store at Portage and Smith. When the Kensington building was built on the site they operated the Olympia Café on the main floor (presumably where the name for the hotel came from).
Marlborough Hotel
The Olympia Hotel, opened in 1914, was built by the firm Carter Halls Aldiger, (who brought you the St. Charles Hotel, Free Press Building among others), with architect James Chisholm (also). The original Olympia was just the bottom three floors, the stone section.

c 1915 with troops from Historic Building Report (see below)
The timing of The Olympia was terrible. A recession was on and World War I drove down any demand for additional luxury hotel space. The Olympia folded within a year. The feds needed places to house and marshal troops and that is how the Olympia spent it's next couple of years.
c 1925 as the Marlborough

The upper stories appear to have been added in two stages. The four in brick in 1921 and the top two in 1923. It was after this expansion that the hotel was renamed The Marlborough.

More recent additions include the 8 storey expansion to the north, including the Skyview Ballroom, opened in 1960. In 2004 a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion saw The Marlborough purchase the Garrick Cinema converting part of it to a waterslide park and leaving the rest as a theatre venue.

Legion commemoration:
Marlborough Hotel
A couple of interesting notes:

- Churchill's is named for Sir Winston Churchill, once a guest at the hotel.
- The Royal Canadian Legion was founded at the Marlborough in 1925.
- The Winnipeg Press Club was a long-time occupant in the Olympia Room.
- The Marlborough is Manitoba's largest banquet hotel.

Some modern snaps. Sorry, m
y pics aren't so great - the Marlborough with it's tall ceilings and dark lighting confounds my little camera !
Marlborough Hotel
Marlborough Hotel
Marlborough Hotel
Marlborough Hotel
Johanna's main window from the inside (note the Tiffany & Co. lanterns):
Marlborough Hotel
... and from the outside:
Marlborough Hotel
Video Tour - Winnipeg Sun
Olympia/Marlborough Hotel - Historic Building Committee Report (pdf)
Marlborough Hotel - U of M Winnipeg Building Index

Our History - The Marlborough Hotel

1 comment:

rmginter@hotmail .com said...

I was looking on line for an old pic that showed a large dining room with a central fish pond at this hotel. It was surrounded by palm trees and had a fountain. I heard in the 70's that it still existed and was hidden in a storage-area.