Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Empty Again: Kelly House's long history

Kelly House IIKelly House
News that Kelly House at 88 Adelaide Street is empty again. For the past three years or so it was home to Cancer Care Manitoba's Challenge for Life Campaign offices.

Back in 2008 when it was facing demolition, I wrote a post about its history. Below is a rewrite of that post with some additional information and up-to-date hyperlinks !

Kelly House sits on land originally owned by Alexander McDermot who sold it to Thomas and Michael Kelly. The brothers were a pioneer family in Winnipeg's construction industry with such firms Kelly Bros., Thomas Kelly and Son and the Manitoba Construction Company. Their reach expanded as far west as Vancouver.

July 29, 1897, Nor'Wester

Michael's portfolio included the old Dominion Post Office on Portage Ave, the Law Courts on Broadway and the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue. Thomas’ works include the Grain Exchange Building, the Free Press Building, the Imperial Bank (Millennium Centre), and the Bank of Nova Scotia (A.A. Heaps Building).

Besides buildings, they were also responsible for many public works, including bridges and roads. They even laid the first asphalt on Winnipeg streets, as noted in the above article.

September 23, 1882, Winnipeg Daily Sun

It was Michael Kelly who designed and had Kelly House built starting in September 1882. Like his brothers, he came to New York from Ireland in the 1840s. There, he married Elizabeth O'Neill and the two began their family which eventually consisted of seven sons and three daughters. In 1877 they came to Winnipeg and in 1881 he went into partenership with Thomas in the construction business.

The Kelly family lived there for five years.

Kelly then rented the home out to architect James H Cadham. The Cadham family, wife Eliza and five children, lived there from 1887 to 1901.

James H. Cadham was responsible for designing over thirty buildings in the Exchange District and downtown, many of them built during the time he lived on Adelaide. The Galt Building (103 Princess) and Whitla Block (70 Arthur) are just two examples of his work.

Cadham’s son, Frederick Todd Cadham, lived at Kelly House until he was 11 years old. He went on to become a pioneering doctor in the field of bacteriology and hygeine, a long-time professor at the U of M and head of Manitoba's public health laboratory, (which was later named the Fred T. Cadham Public Health Laboratory in his honour). 

November 20, 1901, Morning Telegram

In late 1901 the Cadham's moved out and by that time the commercial activity of Exchange District had overpowered the small residential neighbourhood within it. Kelly House became a rooming house, still owned by Michael. Around 1908 it appears that Thomas may have taken ownership of it.

The Kelly name was sullied with the Manitoba Legislature Scandal ca. 1915. Under growing allegations of kickbacks, misappropriation of funds and theft of building materials, the construction process was stopped in 1915 and a Royal Inquiry was held. The inquest brought down the government and tore apart the families ties of the three Kelly Brothers. Micheal, however, was cleared of any wrongdoing. (For a more detailed account of the scandal see Cherney's articles in WREN: part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4.)

June 30, 1923, Manitoba Free Press

Michael Kelly died in 1923 with his reputation intact but it seems that his house became tied up in the legislature scandal thanks to Thomas' involvement in its ownership. 

The house become property of the city in 1921 and remained so until 1948. (I can't find a reason as to why the city became owner or why they kept it for so long. Specultion is that it may have been seized as an asset of Thomas Kelly.)

During the years of city ownership it appears that the house was closed up. 

ca. 1979 (Source)

Once back in play, it appears as if the house continued to be a rooming house, or at least divided into at least two residences. In 1979 it was was given heritage status as being "significant for both architectural and historic reasons”.

From 1982 to 1986 Kelly House was home to the Winnipeg Film Group. 

During their time there a number of notable films were made. John Paizs' The Three Worlds of Nick (1984) became the first WFG first film to be screened at Toronto's Film Festival. In 1985 John Paizs' Crime Wave is released and became a cult classic, (check out this CBC story and this fansite. It is also said that some scenes from Guy Madden's Tales from the Gimli Hospital are filmed inside Kelly House.

Over a decade later, it  was featured in a series of juvenile fantasy books by Rae Bridgman as the entry point to the secret world.

Kelly House I (1882)

In the early 1990s the building got new owners, Adelaide Investments, who had very different plans for Kelly House. It ended up sitting empty for about a decade when the owner applied to have it's heritage status de-listed. It was the first step in applying for a demolition permit to create more parking for his neighbouring property.

In November 2008 the city's Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development voted down the motion to remove the historical designation. Instead, they paired up the owner with CentreVenture to see if they could work out a redevelopment plan.

Kelly House

In March 2009 the two announced that they had come to an agreement to split the $450,000 in renovations required. The following year It became home to the Cancer Care Manitoba's Challenge for Life Campaign offices.

My Flickr album of Kelly House photos
Historic Buildings Committee Report
Kelly House lease listing CentreVenture

Here are a few newspaper clippings that i came across that will give you a sense of what Kelly's neighbourhood would have been like. The residential nature can be seen in the ads for houses and hotels:
Wpg Daily Sun, July 27, 1883:
Daily Nor'Wester, March 8, 1895:
Wpg Daily Sun, June 27, 1883:
Wpg Daily Sun, May 13, 1882:

Some neighbourhood businesses where Kelly may have shopped:

Wpg Daily Sun, April 5, 1882:Daily Nor'Wester, Oct. 2, 1885:
Sidewalks ! Daily Nor'Wester July 24, 1894:

The list below are still in progress - sorry if they are a bit messy !

The Michael Kelly Years: 1882 - 1887

It’s difficult to piece together a complete list of the works accredited to Michael. While in partnership with his brother Thomas. Also, the Kellys were for the most part contractors, not architects, and contractors don't get as much mention in building indexes. Micheal, though does get credit for being the architect of Kelly House) .

This is a partial list of some of Kelly Brothers works. An interesting to note that two of their projects, the St. Andrew’s Locks and Dam and the Winnipeg Aqueduct, are designated “National Engineering Historic Sites” by the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering. The former is also a National Historic Site.

- Bank of Nova Scotia 254-258 Portage Ave. (More) c.1908–10

- Bank of Toronto 456 Main St., c.1905 – 1907 (More)
- Canadian Northern Railway Shops
- Free Press Building c.1912, 300 Carlton St. (More)
- Grain Exchange Building III c.1906-08, 167 Lombard Ave. (More)
- Imperial Bank of Canada (Millennium Centre) c.1906, 441 Main St. (More)
- Kelly Building (Kilgour Block) c.1904, 181 Bannatyne Ave. (More)
- Laura Secord School c.1912, 960 Wolseley Ave. (More)
- Dominion Post Office c.1904-09, Portage at Garry
- Water Tower, Tache Avenue
- Utility Building /Grain Exchange I c.1892, 164 Princess St. (More)

Out of town works:

- Shoal Lake Aqueduct (one of multiple builders)
- St. Andrew’s Locks and Dam (Lockport)
- Dominion Post Office (Vancouver)
- CPR Railway Tressel
(b/t Lethbridge & Ft. Macleod AB) c.1890
- Canadian Bank of Commerce Building (Vancouver)

The J.H. Cadham Years: 1897 - 1901

You can see that a number of Cadham's buildings were created while he lived at Kelly House between approximately 1887 and 1892. For a complete list with architectural references see Cadham at the U of M Buildings Index. 
- Avenue Building c.1904265 Portage Ave
- Galt Building c.1887 103 Princess St (More)
-Whitla Building c.1899 264-266 McDermot Ave. (More)
- Alloway and Champion Building c.1905, 667 Main St.
- Alloway Building c.1898, 179 McDermot Ave. (More)
- Blue Ribbon Building c. 1901, 87 King St.

- Brownstone's Sportswear (Reiss Furs) c. 1903, 275 McDermot Ave.
- Daylite Building c. 1899, 296 McDermot Ave. (More)
- Fit-Reform Block c. 1905, 289-291 Portage Ave.
- Frost and Wood Warehouse c.1906, 230 Princess St. 1906
- Gault Building (Artspace) c.1900, 92-104 Arthur St. (More)
- Gaylord Block c.1903, 111 Lombard Ave. (More)
- Gregg Building 52-56 Albert St. 1902 (More)
- Imperial Dry Goods Block c.1899, 91 Albert St. (More)
- McLaughlin Carriage Building c.1902, 204-212 Princess St. (More)
- Medical Services Building c.1906, 750 Bannatyne Ave.
- Merchants Building c.1897, 250 McDermot Ave. (More)
- Miller Morse Hardware Co. c.1904, 317 McDermot Ave. (More)
- Moss House c.1900, 218 Roslyn Road
- Sheldon's Furniture Warehouse c.1905, 315 William Ave
Stobart Building c.1903, 275-281 McDermot Ave. (More) 
- Woodbine Hotel c. 1878, 466 Main St. (More)


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