Description of Historic Place
St. Boniface Fire Hall No. 1, a large brick structure built in 1907 and later expanded, is situated near other government facilities at one end of the historic St. Boniface business district in east Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and the interior pressed tin ceilings and walls.
St. Boniface Fire Hall No. 1, a minimally adorned, Romanesque Revival-style structure, exemplifies the type of impressive public facilities built in the early 1900s in St. Boniface, then a rapidly growing Franco-Manitoban municipality across the Red River from Winnipeg. The sturdy dual-use station, designed by V.W. Horwood to hold municipal offices as well as firefighters and their equipment, is distinguished aesthetically from other historic local fire halls by its exterior simplicity and two-tower front. At the same time, it shares with its contemporaries an emphasis on functionality in materials, layout and specialized features, a number of which remain intact. Centrally located and adaptable over time to changes in equipment and staffing, this durable landmark was pivotal to fire protection in St. Boniface for over six decades and now serves as a museum.
Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minutes, September 14, 1987
Key elements that define the heritage character of the St. Boniface Fire Hall No. 1 site include:
- the mid-block location on rue Dumoulin in a mixed residential and commercial neighbourhood, with easy access and egress in all directions, including off a large front (north) driveway
- the building's physical and visual relationships with the 1905-06 St. Boniface City Hall to its immediate south, the police station and other public buildings
Key elements that define the station's sturdy construction, austere Romanesque Revival-style exterior and fire hall function include:
- the boxy rectangular form, including a 2 1/2-storey main volume and a two-storey rear stable, with a foundation of stone, and walls of buff-coloured brick minimally relieved by stone and brick detailing
- the varied roofline, including the main volume's combined gable and hip roof, moderately sloped and clad with corrugated metal, the stable's flat roof, the crenellated tower parapets at different heights, and a tall brick chimney
- the fortress-like front composed of a central gable section, a square hose-drying tower on a prominent flared base of rusticated limestone, a lower, narrower bell tower, also square, integrated into the west corner and openings that reduce in size from bottom to top
- the mix of round-arched and flat-headed windows throughout, the rectangular ones tall and in singles or pairs, the louvred belfry openings in the west tower, etc.
- the large front vehicle doorways
- the smooth-cut stone belt course inscribed with 'STATION.DE.FEU.NO 1' above the vehicle doorways and 'A.D.1907' over the bell tower door
- the other modest ornamentation, most prominent in the towers' stone-capped battlements and continuous upper-stage stone belt courses and in the east tower's corbelled brickwork, etc.
- other details such as the east tower's blind openings and rooftop flagpole, etc.
Key elements that define the station's functional interior and specialized features include:
- the efficient layout of a large, open main-floor equipment room with workshop and stable at the rear, second-storey offices and open third-floor dormitory
- the circulation patterns provided by narrow circular steel staircase, and by east-side metal fire poles
- the practical concrete basement and main floors
- the fireproof treatment in the main-floor equipment and stable areas, including ceilings covered with pressed metal, walls with upper pressed tin tiling and lower tongue-and-groove wainscotting, etc.