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Robinson, Little and Company Building

54 Arthur Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2008/02/26

Primary elevations, from the southwest, of the Robinson, Little and Company Building, Winnipeg, 2008; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2008
Primary Elevations
Primary elevations, from the southeast, of the Robinson, Little and Company Building, Winnipeg, 2008; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2008
Contextual View
Detail of main entrance to the Robinson, Little and Company Building, Winnipeg, 2008; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2008
Detail

Other Name(s)

Robinson, Little and Company Building
Silpit A Building
Greenshields Western Merchants Building
Bâtiment Greenshields Western Merchants
Bâtiment Slipit A

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1903/01/01 to 1903/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/05

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Robinson, Little and Company Building, a six-storey brick and stone warehouse constructed in 1903, stretches the width of a city block to face two streets, Arthur and King, in Winnipeg's downtown Exchange District, a national historic site of Canada. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and listed exterior and interior elements.

Heritage Value

The Robinson, Little and Company Building, powerfully symmetrical and vertical in massing, robustly adorned with limestone and judiciously appointed with arched openings, is an excellent example of a Richardsonian Romanesque-style storage and supply depot. Planned by a leading early Winnipeg architect, James H. Cadham, this substantial brick and stone warehouse, of heavy mill construction with many windows and an inviting street-level design, complements the aesthetics and materials of the adjoining R.J. Whitla and Company Building, another Cadham structure. It also is one of only a few warehouses on mid-block sites in the historic Exchange District that present identical finished facades to two streets. Illustrative of its area's commercial evolution, the building is noted for its long association with dry goods merchant Robinson, Little and Co., which operated and stocked a large, successful chain of western department stores from the site for some six decades, followed by Silpit Industries Ltd., a clothing manufacturer, and, more recently, by mixed office and retail uses.

Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, February 26, 2008

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Robinson, Little and Company Building site include:
- its mid-block location on the west side of Arthur Street extending to the east side of King Street, between Notre Dame and McDermot avenues in central Winnipeg, in a part of the Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada that contains many buildings of similar scale, design, construction and materials
- the facility's full occupancy of its property, abutting public sidewalks to the east and west and sharing a party wall with the R.J. Whitla and Company Building to the north, the two forming a massive, continuous and complementary complex occupying frontage on Arthur and King

Key exterior elements that define the warehouse as a fine expression of the Richardsonian Romanesque style include:
- the large scale, formal massing emphasizing symmetry and verticality, and boxy, rectangular plan
- the signature Exchange District building envelope, including the raised and roughly dressed limestone base, six-storey superstructure of buff brick and flat, sharply defined roofline
- the identical east and west, five-bay main facades, delineated vertically by brick pilasters rising to a sixth-floor arcade of round-arched windows, and including regularly spaced, square-headed single and double windows that decrease in height on the upper floors, centrally placed arched doorways, etc.
- the prominent east entrance, matched on the west side, doubly inset within a shouldered brick and stone arch and a round arch of smooth-cut stone with bold voussoirs, and with a fanlight, stone steps, etc.
- the south (rear) elevation's rough-cut stone base, plain brick wall, raised and segmental-arched loading doors, two vertical rows of segmental-arched windows, etc.
- the details, including the corbelled brick cornices, delicate interconnected sixth-floor drip moulding, heavy rough-cut stone lintels and windowsills, multi-paned windows, transoms, etc.

Key elements that define the warehouse's interior character include:
- high ceilings with ornamental tin panels, plank wood flooring and many exposed cast-iron columns
- arched openings with sliding metal fire doors in the north party wall
- details such as simple wooden banisters on the staircases, plank wood bathroom stalls, etc.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Manitoba

Recognition Authority

City of Winnipeg

Recognition Statute

City of Winnipeg Act

Recognition Type

Winnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure

Recognition Date

2008/02/26

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building
Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Historic

Commerce / Commercial Services
Warehouse

Architect / Designer

James H. Cadham

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

W0225

Status

Published

Related Places

Aerial view

Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada

Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada is located in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. The site consists of a densely built, turn-of -the-century warehousing and business…

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