Description of Historic Place
The Bathgate Block, a three-storey brick warehouse built in 1882-83, is situated in a commercial and industrial area of downtown Winnipeg, a short distance north of the Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.
The Bathgate Block, an expressive Romanesque Revival-style structure with many round-arched openings and textured brick detailing, is one of the oldest warehouses in downtown Winnipeg and the only complete building that remains from the portfolio of Barber and Barber, the city's first major architectural firm. This prolific partnership, most active in ca. 1876-87, shaped much of the city's early commercial appearance and also designed important schools, churches and government buildings. The firm's Bathgate Block project is a good representation of the type of rental warehouse space established by investors during the boom of the early 1880s that accompanied the Canadian Pacific Railway's arrival in Winnipeg. Of particular note is the structure's strategic organization, outside and within, into three sections with the potential for subdivided ownership as well as separate occupancies. This highly visible warehouse also is valued for its contribution to the aesthetic and historic continuity of Princess Street, a busy downtown thoroughfare that contains a number of Victorian-era buildings.
Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, November 30, 2004
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Bathgate Block site include:
- the corner location at northwest Alexander Avenue and Princess Street, backing on to a lane in a long-established commercial and industrial area on the fringe of the historic Exchange District
- the structure's placement on the lot, built to the public sidewalks and presenting principal facades along both Princess and Alexander
- the warehouse's similarity in style and scale to other buildings in the area
Key exterior elements that define the structure's Romanesque Revival style and warehouse function include:
- the boxy rectangular mass of heavy mill construction, three storeys high, with a raised rubble-stone foundation, brick walls finished in buff-coloured brick and a flat roof
- the symmetrical organization and similar treatment of the three-bay front (east) and four-bay south facades, defined vertically by stone and brick pilasters and tall windows, and horizontally by banding elements, including a metal main-floor cornice
- the many round- and segmental-arched front and south openings, including large main-floor doorways and display windows and elongated upper-level windows, rhythmically grouped in threes, defined by brick voussoirs and drip moulding and interconnected by nailhead mouldings, etc.
- the entablature and parapet highlighted by courses of corbelled and diagonally laid brickwork and by round-arched panels with inset metal sunburst ornamentation centred over most bays
- details such as the heavy rusticated stone sills of the front display windows, the smooth-cut upper stone sills, the channelled brickwork in main-floor pilasters, the prominent pilaster capitals integrated with the main-floor cornice, the metal fire escapes, etc.
- the plain brick west and north facades, interrupted at ground level on the west side by loading docks and a rear entrance
Key elements that define the building's interior character include:
- the organization of each floor into three sections extending the depth of the structure, separated on the upper levels by brick walls and with each section served by a utilitarian wooden staircase with plain wooden handrails and balusters
- the raised loading area at the back of the main floor accessed via two wooden ramps
- the freight elevator
- the finishes and features, including exposed heavy square timber posts and beams, plank floors, tin ceiling tiles on the main floor, strip wood ceilings in the upper storeys, baseboards, simple wooden window frames, etc.