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Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Building

234 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/10/05

Exterior View of the Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Building, Winnipeg, 2004; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport , 2004
North (Front) Elevation
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Construction Date(s)

1909/01/01 to 1909/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/01/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Contrasting sharply with its unornamented post-1960 neighbours, the Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Building presents an intricately embellished terra cotta front to Portage Avenue, one of downtown Winnipeg's main corridors. The two-storey office building, developed in 1909 by a local financial firm, has been designated a Grade II structure by the City of Winnipeg. The designation includes the building footprint and following interior elements: brass doors and staircase in the main foyer; volume of the main-floor banking hall complete with attached pilasters, ceiling details and banking hall offices, including the office in the southeast corner with the built-in cabinet and fireplace; the arched ceiling and skylight on the second floor; and vaults.

Heritage Value

The Neo-Classical-style Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Building, with its exquisite exterior detailing, is an excellent Winnipeg example of the use of architectural terra cotta on a small-scale commercial structure. Most of the other pre-1920 terra cotta buildings in the downtown are large facilities such as office towers. Designed by John D. Atchison these premises also are valued for the quality and integrity of their interior ornamentation. For more than half a century, the building served as the headquarters of Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Ltd., an investment, real estate and insurance business which operated across Western Canada.

Source: City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee Meeting, June 17, 2004

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the structure's Neo-Classical design and terra cotta cladding include:
- the symmetrical main facade fronting a long narrow rectangular form, with a granite base, cream-coloured terra cotta with green accents above, and large square-headed windows and door openings
- the classical elements, including the end pilasters; the attached three-quarter Corinthian Order columns, each with an embellished base, fluted shaft and richly detailed capital; and the elaborate modillioned pediment with winged cherubs, a medallion, sheaves of grain, garlands of fruits, vegetables and flowers, and various mouldings
- the additional decorative features, such as the ornate window surrounds and spandrels, floral designs, low-relief sculptural elements, etc.

Key elements of the building's rich interior include:
- the finely appointed foyer, with its brass and multi-paned glass entrance doors and marble and metal staircase to the second floor
- the volume of the main-floor public and office spaces and detailing such as the attached pilasters, beamed ceiling and the office in the southeast corner with its built-in cabinet and fireplace
- the second-floor arched ceiling and skylight and vaults (on various floors)

Key elements that define the building's connection to Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Ltd. include:
- the raised letters reading 'Established 1881' in the pediment medallion, a reference to the company's Winnipeg origin




Recognition Authority

City of Winnipeg

Recognition Statute

City of Winnipeg Act

Recognition Type

Winnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

John D. Atchison



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, File: "234 Portage Avenue"

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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