Description of Historic Place
The Fort Garry Hotel, built in Winnipeg in 1911-13 for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, is a palatial edifice on a downtown street lined by major institutional, commercial and apartment structures. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and the following interior spaces: Rotunda (main lobby), Palm Room, Provencher Room and seventh-floor Ballroom, Banquet Room and Loggia.
The Fort Garry Hotel is unique in Manitoba, the last surviving grand hotel from an era when such buildings were at the pinnacle of architectural achievement. Designed by the notable Montreal firm of Ross and MacFarlane, the hotel is the province's sole example of the Chateau style, an architecture that came to be seen as a distinctly Canadian style, combining qualities of the French Gothic with a strong Canadian impulse for large, dramatic architectural gestures. In its grand and luxurious public spaces the Fort Garry Hotel retains high levels of integrity in the display of a variety of expensive features, materials and finishes. Located a block west of Union Station, the landmark hotel also maintains its important historic and visual links to the building that was the economic source for its existence.
Source: City of Winnipeg Council Meeting Minute, February 20, 1980
Key elements that define the historic site character of the Fort Garry Hotel include:
- its Broadway location, centred between Garry and Fort streets
- the orientation of the main facade and primary doors facing north to Broadway, with a wide driveway space separating the building from the street
Key exterior elements that define the hotel's grand Chateau-style character include:
- its bulky, 14-storey height whose symmetrical composition defines the north, east and west facades, and which is carried out in large blocks of smooth-cut Indiana limestone over a steel frame and grey granite base
- the steep copper roof whose picturesque quality is defined by a multitude of small shed- and hip-roofed dormers, highly elaborate stone dormer facades at the corners, a wealth of pinnacles, a large ornate chimney, etc.
- the formal main entrance with broad stone stairs, a large decorated canopy supported by stout columns and heavy wood and glass doors
- the variety of window shapes, including two-storey segmental-arched examples, small rectangular examples, loopholes, bay windows that run up the five intermediate floors, etc., and the variety of framing treatments, including heavily articulated examples in the two-storey windows and simpler sash treatments on other windows
- the rich detailing, especially the decorative stonework at the cornice, balcony balustrades atop the bay windows, a rounded stone turret topped by a polygonal roof, etc.
Key elements that define the building's luxury hotel character are most apparent in the following configurations, areas and spaces:
- the main lobby with its stately volume and wealth of stone and metal features and details, including the patterned marble floor, deeply recessed ceiling panels, square columns with foliated capitals, shallow arches with heavy keystones, heavily decorated wood and marble reception desk, mezzanine floor encircled with bronzed railing and accessed by curving white marble stairs with an elaborate rail, etc.
- staircases with marble stairs and bronze railings with decorative patterns
- guest floors with broad hallways and heavily articulated wood doors and door frames
- guest rooms with their formal layout and modest embellishments, including simple cove mouldings, wood doors and casings, baseboards, etc.
Additional key elements that define the building's luxury hotel character, apparent in the following major public spaces, each with its own distinctive volume and wall and ceiling treatments carried out with exotic woods, decorative plaster and concrete and plaster in imitation of cut stone, are:
- Palm Room with its elegant oval plan, generous volume, shallow curved ceiling, complex, classically ornamented walls, window wall with its distinctive tripartite divisions, etc.
- Provencher Room with its grand volume and wealth of features and details, especially the heavily articulated ceiling and walls
- Loggia Hall with its impressive height, long uninterrupted length and Chateau-style elements, including the heavy beamed ceiling, heavily articulated wall surfaces defined by tall and impressive round arches filled with elaborate wooden screens and doors, brass lanterns, etc.
- Loggia Sitting Room, also high and long, with tall windows and Chateau-style features and details such as the cross-vaulted ceiling, heavy iron lanterns, impressive fireplace, etc.
- Ballroom with its grand, stately volume, heavy beamed ceiling and varied wall surfaces, tall windows, thrust stage with an ornate proscenium, etc.
- Banquet Room with its impressive volume and delicate ornamentation, etc.
- Club Room with its low, heavily beamed ceiling, complex wall surfaces, etc.
- Cigar Room with its oak stairs, brass stair rail, enriched cove moulding, large circular medallion, etc.