Description of Historic Place
Villa Louise, completed in 1888, is a large brick dwelling on a downtown residential street in Brandon. The provincial designation applies to the two-storey building and its grounds.
Villa Louise is an exceptional Manitoba example of an Italianate-style villa and a familiar landmark in Brandon. The stately house, the earliest known local project by a prolific and respected architect, Walter H. Shillinglaw, is an exquisite rendering of the style, as evidenced by its low-pitched roof, ornately bracketed eaves, wide verandah, bay windows, graceful brickwork and fine interior appointments. The dwelling's setting within spacious grounds on a corner site adds to its prominence within its central neighbourhood. The original occupant, Dr. Alexander Fleming, opened Brandon's first medical practice in ca. 1881 and was one of the founders of the general hospital and the first chairman of the school board. Another noted citizen, Isaac Robinson, owner of the Empire Brewing Co., also is associated with Villa Louise.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minutes, December 7, 1985
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Villa Louise site include:
- its corner location in a residential area close to Brandon's downtown business district
- the building's placement, set back on a slightly elevated lot, facing south over a wide lawn skirted by mature trees on the west and north and a low stone fence to the south and east
Key exterior elements that define the building's exceptional Italianate villa character include:
- the tall two-storey massing, rectangular in form, with a substantial two-storey pavilion and one-storey extension to the west, and bay windows on the front (south) and east elevations
- the moderately pitched, truncated hip roof with wide eaves supported by scrolled wooden brackets in pairs and singles
- the walls of buff brick on a stone foundation, with finely crafted brick detailing, including quoins at each corner, segmental-arched window heads, dual drip mouldings extended as stringcourses, etc.
- the large wraparound wooden verandah supported by squared columns
- the fitting fenestration, with tall rectangular sash windows in wood surrounds set singly and in pairs, some flat-headed, others under segmental arches
- the formal symmetry of the primary facade, with a wide projecting round-arched entrance set between matching angled bay windows, and paired second-floor openings flanking a wide central window
- details such as the narrow wood stringcourse connecting the bases of the brackets, decorative wood fascia on two bays, rectangular brick chimneys, etc.
Key elements that define the dwelling's well-appointed interior character include:
- the centre-hall plan with Dr. Fleming's modest office directly at the end of a large vestibule and stair hall
- the spacious main-floor living spaces with high ceilings, including a large kitchen, summer kitchen and rear service staircase
- the second-floor layout with bedrooms grouped around the central staircase landing and a narrow hallway leading west towards an additional room
- the attractive open wood staircase with a curved balustrade, etched panels, brass trim, elaborate newel post lamp, etc.
- the fine woodwork throughout, notably on the double doors into the living rooms, the living-room archway trim, the dining-room wainscotting and the transoms above the doors, all with stain-and-varnish finishes
- the decorative glazing, such as etched glass panels on living room doors, coloured glass sidelights on the front door and etched glass panels over the entrance doors
- fixtures and details such as the marble-trimmed fireplace with a mirror above, decorative plaster crown mouldings, pressed metal kitchen ceiling, cast-iron radiators, brass fittings on doors, vestibule coat hooks, dining room chandelier, wood floors on the second level, etc.