Description of Historic Place
Roslyn Court Apartments, a five-storey building of brick, reinforced concrete and stone built in 1908-09, is on the south side of the Assiniboine River at the edge of Winnipeg's Osborne Village. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and the following interior elements: public hallways, including stained-glass windows and wood flooring; entrance doors; original woodwork; elevator; and covered walkways in the interior courtyard.
Roslyn Court Apartments is one of Canada's quintessential examples of Queen Anne Revival styling as applied to apartment blocks in the early twentieth century. The picturesque style, typified by complex roofs and animated asymmetrical facades varying in materials, colours and ornament, was particularly popular for single-family houses in affluent neighbourhoods. Its use on a Winnipeg apartment block was uncommon to the era and helped make Roslyn Court, with its distinctive scale and colouring, a landmark among its similarly aged but stylistically differentiated peers. Designed by W.W. Blair and located in Fort Rouge, an early exclusive residential suburb, Roslyn Court became one of the city's most opulent multiple-family blocks. No cost was spared to provide the latest in safety or luxury - an interior courtyard with covered walkways, verandahs and light wells, large suites and lavish finishes - all of which attracted wealthy tenants. The large structure, a national historic site that overlooks the Assiniboine River and one of Winnipeg's main north-south streets, continues to house residents with minimal change to its original design, finishes and details.
Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, November 16, 1998
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Roslyn Court Apartments site include:
- its prominent location at the southeast foot of the Osborne Bridge, the gateway to south Winnipeg, across the Assiniboine River from the Manitoba Legislative Building, at a busy intersection
Key elements expressing the block's Queen Anne Revival style and substantial construction include:
- the irregular massing of the brick facades, enlivened by bays, pavilions and verandahs, five storeys in height atop a raised, rusticated limestone base
- the complex roof featuring an assortment of roof types, dormers, ornate gable ends, ornamented chimneys and red tiling, including an elongated shed dormer framed by turreted green tile roofs, etc.
- the elaborately detailed, asymmetrical and polychromatic primary elevations, finished in smooth limestone (main floor) and red brick with generous stone trim, including the expressive stepped south facade with a large recessed stone entrance, multi-storey bays, verandahs, etc., and the subdued west facade with walkways extended between gabled pavilions and an ornamental stone entrance featuring an elaborate pediment reading 'THE ROSLYN' and '1909' above
- the north and east walls similarly but more simply detailed, including stacked metal bay windows painted to contrast with their light-coloured brick finishes
- the double-hung rectangular sash windows throughout, of varying sizes, in singles, pairs or triplets, with (often continuous) heavy stone sills and heads, some keystones, quoins, etc.
- an L-shaped inner courtyard with a series of light wells, walkways (glass-canopied on the top floor) and bridges
- the variety of details and finishes, including bracketed overhanging wood eaves, brick pilasters, limestone accents such as belt courses and coping, copper cornices, arcaded verandah bases, etc.
- the solid fire-resistant construction of brick bearing walls on a stone foundation and concrete footings, with reinforced concrete framework, tile joists, and brick and hollow tile partitions
Interior elements that express the opulence of the block's design include:
- the formal plan incorporating a range of suite sizes and appointments, from bachelor to 200-square-metre luxury units, with open fireplaces, formal dining rooms with beamed ceilings, large kitchens with built-in pantries connected to service staircases, domestic quarters, transom lights, pocket doors, etc.
- access between levels via main wooden staircases lit by stained- and leaded-glass skylights, utilitarian service staircases and a copper cage elevator
- the rich details and finishes, such as ornate wood- and plasterwork throughout, including oak-panelled walls, dark-stained corridor wainscotting, doors and trim, maple flooring, etc.