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.
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
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.