Description of Historic Place
The Taylor House, a 2 1/2-storey brick dwelling built in 1913, sits on a well-groomed lot in a residential area of Portage la Prairie. The municipal designation applies to the building and its lot.
The Taylor House is a majestic residence featuring remarkable craftsmanship blending elements of the Prairie School aesthetic with other influences. Made popular in the work of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Prairie style is characterized by an emphasis on clean horizontal lines, natural materials and subtle Japanese influences. The Taylor House's gently sloping roofs with large overhanging eaves, groups of rectangular openings and details, such as geometric patterns and porches, typify the Prairie style; however, departures exist in the building's height and use of ornamental brick. The residence was built for one of Portage la Prairie's most influential early citizens, Fawcett Gowler Taylor, a crown prosecutor, alderman and mayor, leader of Manitoba's Conservative Party (1922-33) and a superior court judge, and many of the original interior finishes and details from the Taylor family's occupation are still apparent.
Source: City of Portage la Prairie By-law No. 04-8227, August 9, 2004
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Taylor House site include:
- its presence among other grand dwellings in a prominent residential area of Portage la Prairie
- its location on well-groomed grounds with a formal driveway, iron gates and decorative brick fence posts, a one-storey garage in the same style as the house, etc.
Key external elements that define the dwelling's handsomely crafted Prairie style include:
- the symmetrical 2 1/2-storey structure with a low-pitched hip roof punctuated by one gable and three shed dormers, all clad in wood shingles painted red
- the multi-coloured tapestry brick facades featuring geometric patterns, including diamonds set in squares under the eaves throughout, panels inset with large `Vs' between the north facade's second-storey windows, belt courses, etc.
- the one-storey north entrance portico with squat brick columns, large wooden brackets, a low-pitched roof with an underside of geometrically arranged wood planking, a grand staircase flanked by brick planters, etc.
- the two-storey south porch with wood shingles dividing the ample multi-paned glazing of each level, large overhanging eaves, etc.
- the rectangular fixed, double-hung and casement multi-paned windows throughout, featuring soldier-coursed brick lintels and sills, with notable large windows on the north facade, including the second level's three banks connected by continuous brick heads
- the details, including the Taylor crest depicted in the stained- and leaded-glass windows of the dining room and second-floor landing, and in a frieze of Italian terra cotta tiles under the soffits, etc.
Key elements that define the house's stately interior layout and finishes, dating from the Taylor family occupancy, include:
- the formal central-hall plan with spacious rooms coming off broad hallways
- the large dog-leg staircase featuring simply carved wooden balustrades
- the main-floor music room with mahogany panelling, connected to a sunroom through a doorway flanked by double-hung windows; the formal living room with a beamed ceiling, American walnut panelling and tile fireplace; and the dining room with a beamed ceiling and mahogany panelling
- the basement billiards room with intact woodwork and a fireplace
- the second floor featuring a hallway trimmed in English elm, a bedroom with a fireplace, etc.
- refined materials, finishes and details such as plank wood floors and oak woodwork, sand-cast plaster walls, historically accurate colour palettes, oak and leaded-glass doors with brass hardware, period light fixtures, ornate cast-iron radiators, servant call buttons, some mosaic tile and ceramic floors, etc.