Thursday, 29 September 2011

If 60 buildings drop off the city's historic buildings inventory does anybody care ?

Around Downtown

I've vented in the past that Manitoba's 'official' heritage groups simply aren't doing enough to make their information available to the public. While other jurisdictions have been busy digitizing collections and some even have archives that are open outside of bankers hours, most of our resources are stuck in the 1990's with little sign that they are going anywhere.

Here's a case of what little online content we do have moving in reverse. What's worse is nobody really cares all that much.

I came across the information while researching a house on Sargent Avenue. A Google search brought me to the
2010-2011 annual report of the Manitoba Heritage Association and the recap of the year's activities of the Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee. The HBC is a City of Winnipeg committee made up of: Councillor J. Gerbasi Council (member-at-large); Councillor P. Havixbeck (Property and Development Committee); Tim Worth (Manitoba Historical Society); David Kressock (Manitoba Association of Architects); Neil Einarson (Province of Manitoba - Culture, Heritage & Tourism); and Gregory Thomas (Government of Canada - Parks Canada).

The recap, written by Tim Worth of the Manitoba Historical Society, noted:

"In an ongoing review of the addresses included in the Inventory in 2010-11, the decision was made to remove 60 addresses and retain 288 of those that had been taken into consideration."

Sadly, this means that each of those 60 buildings' reports get removed from the city's online Historic Building Inventory database, thus disappearing from the internet.

Click the link above and you can check out some of these documents. "Overview" reports are usually just a page or two but contain valuable information about when the building was built, who built it, the original owners etc.. "Long" reports can be 5 - 10 pages long and contain a detailed description of the building, past owners, the architects and background information on the neighbourhood they are in and / or the industry that the building was built for.

I was already disappointed to know that when buildings are de-listed or demolished the reports disappear from the web rather than be placed in some 'past buildings' section. Until I read this, I didn't even realize that there was a regular 'cull' of the list.

Former Carnegie Library

Was anyone concerned about this removal ?

The MHS report notes no opposition to the removal. I emailed Heritage Winnipeg but got no response from their office. Jenny Gerbasi, the council rep on this board, just forwarded my email to the senior planner in charge of the inventory without comment or opinion.

To her credit, I did get a reply from the senior planner in charge of the building list. Yes, deleted buildings do get removed from their website (though the committee does publish an annual "Year in Review" but it's content is not searchable online so you have to know in advance that the building appears in one of the 30 or so editions of the publication.) When the city gets a new website, they'll consider a 'buildings of the past section'. Not exactly a ray of hope that these building reports will see the light of day again, still, it was the closest thing I could find to concern that these building reports are not available to the public anymore.

So continues the sad state of Manitoba's online heritage resources.


Here are the addresses of the buildings that are removed. If any of them are of interest you .. tough luck as their reports are not available online anymore:

566 Alexander Avenue – duplex
317 Alfred Avenue – R. Worobec House
476 Bannatyne Avenue – G. Stevens House
573 Broadway – M. Wright House
738 Broadway – Knowles School for Boys
127 Burrows Avenue – House
129 Burrows Avenue – Alfred Clarke House
153 Burrows Avenue – House
161 Burrows Avenue – House
169 Burrows Avenue – J. Westman House
471 College Avenue – C. Runge Grocery & Hardware Store
99 Furby Street – J. Saul House
407 Furby Street – D. MacDonald House
432 Furby Street – Dawson Court Apartments
441 Furby Street – S. H. Smith House
633 Furby Street – G. Garrow House
663 Furby Street – W. Milne House
665 Furby Street – A. Houghton House
255 Gunnell Street – W. W. Wortman House
47 Harriet Street – E. Green House
471 Henry Avenue – H. Kleon House
191 Inkster Boulevard – Christie Grocery Store
68 Isabel Street – Rev. J. J. Roy House
38 Kate Street – Williamson Block
998 Main Street – Westmount Apartments
186 Manitoba Avenue – Walman Apartments
604 McDermot Avenue – J. E. Briggs Duplex
612 McDermot Avenue – J. M. Scott House
202 Notre Dame Street – Gilbert House
212 Notre Dame Street – House
287 Redwood Avenue – A. C. Smith House
290 River Avenue – J. O. Smith House
351 River Avenue – Rosemount Flats
436 Ross Avenue – J. E. Fisher Terrace
448 Ross Avenue – Colin Campbell House
450 Ross Avenue – House
484 Sargent Avenue – A. Bright House
524 Sargent Avenue – Miller Block
561 Sargent Avenue – Peterson Block
637 Sargent Avenue – Connaught Block
130 Sherbrook Street – F. W. Henry House
370 Sherbrook Street – A. Mauer House
378 Sherbrook Street – House
382 Sherbrook Street – House
646 Sherbrook Street – E. B. Fink House
651 Sherbrook Street – J. Petke House
727 Sherbrook Street – B. L. Baldwinson House
379 William Avenue – Rannard Duplex
593 William Avenue – C. A. Hill House
421 Langside Street – E. J. Clarey House
452 Langside Street – Mrs. H. Stodgell House
356 Lindsay Street – H. Tait House
783 Main Street – City Machinery
813 Main Street – R. Bell Block
860 Main Street – Yale (Ontario) Hotel
597 William Avenue – W. K. Blair House
254 Young Street – J. R. Hitchings House
256 Young Street – House
263 Young Street – C. Harris House
285 Young Street – N. Boyd House


Ruth Zaryski Jackson said...

Thanks for bringing this to light, Chris. Shame on Heritage Winnipeg, Manitoba Historical Society and all the others who were party to this disgraceful action! Not only are they not following the mandates of their organizations to protect our heritage, they are removing online access to valuable research data and thus trying to remove these places from the memory of residents and their histories. My guess is that these areas are slated for development and these decisions were developer driven!I'm disgusted!

Anonymous said...

We used to own a home on Machray Avenue. It was built in 1904 - had lots of character left! Yeah, it was a money pit - but the six inch baseboards can't be replicated nowadays. 1900 sq ft up/down duplex. We had many tenants come and go and every time we had to decide whether it was worth it to maintain the character of the turn of the century home. Yes, for us it was. We continued to upkeep the home as best we could until we sold it in 2005. I believe the current owner has similar ideas to continue the legacy of historical homes - they should not be bulldozed down but rather maintained and upgraded .

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can volunteer your talents to creating a "historical " artifact if the City can't seem to find the few dollars it would cost to store this information. personally to your main question, the answer would be 99.999% NO.

That doesn't mean it shouldn't be archived. Its history and as your site has demonstrated over the years, its invaluable and a treat to look back and enjoy what once was.

Keep up your "hobby" labor of love, work, or whatever makes you tick to do it. If you don't, obviously , not many will.


Rod Rouge said...

Wow, thanks for putting the list of removed's up. That was a great idea, now they are in Google's database, at least.

Ruth's comment worries me... because she is likely bang on.

Christian Cassidy said...

Thanks for the comments, folks.

One thing I want to clarify about the buildings is these were part of the inventory but I don't believe any of them had official historical designation.

That, of course, makes it stranger to want to dump them off the list, it's not like they were taking up storage space in a warehouse somewhere. They were just listed on an inventory.

Perhaps some of them are bordering development or in zones where there is hope for new development.
Deleting them off the internet helps ensure that nobody will get the smart idea of trying to have a building listed as their initial reference point is now gone.

Anonymous said...

This is so disgusting! It's underhanded and with a hidden agenda. Ruth's comment says it all. I wonder if a letter contacting the Heritage Society and and Heritage Winnipeg would bring some answers or let them know that people are on to them.

amazed said...

Oh my! My neighbours houses on Young Street. I bought 257 Young Street. I am trying to get more info on my house which has an adjoining property (my neighbours and now separately zoned) 257 1/2 (confusing for postal workers and pizza delivery). Can you help point me in the right direction? So far I know my house was built in 1893. Built by a doctor whom lived in 257 and had his practice in 257 1/2. I was told to go to the City's zoning office and pay $60 for more info on it. Also want floor plans cause behind a wall panel in my kitchen is a servants staircase which runs under my bathtub upstairs (bathroom renovated no bathtub apron so i can see the staircase through the frame built to support the tub--its safe really it is! inspected) I haven't checked the Henderson directory yet (which may only give me lists of those whom lived in my house) I was told by my neighbours at 267 1/2 that they are moving out in October and the landlords want to demolish the house! I want to try and find out more before that happens!

amazed said...

*neighbours at 257 1/2 Young Street

Marianne said...

It makes me so sad that beautiful old buildings with so much history behind them have been removed from the list and are therefore no longer protected. I grew up in "Tait House" at 356 Lindsay Street and never had any idea about the history of this house until just a few years ago. It has since been demolished and replaced by a (in my opinion) characterless huge monstrosity of a house which takes up the entire property. Just wanted to vent. :-)