Description of Historic Place
The Public Press Building, erected in 1917 and expanded by one floor in 1927, is a three-storey reinforced concrete structure located just north of Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.
The Public Press Building, a large Neo-Classical-style structure, is significant for its association with the printing and publishing subsidiary of one of the early prairie reform organizations, the Grain Growers' Grain Co., and its flagship journal, 'The Grain Growers' Guide' (later called 'The Country Guide'), a widely circulated publication that from 1908 onward played a large part in the agricultural and economic development of rural Western Canada. The operation's well-proportioned and well-lit Winnipeg facility, designed by John Woodman and A.E. Cubbidge to carry heavy printing equipment, incorporates the qualities of tradition and solidity associated with classical buildings and effectively articulated in this case through the interplay of brown brick and light limestone. The substantial commercial structure, rehabilitated as offices and classrooms for the Salvation Army's College for Officer Training, maintains its prominent place and function in proximity to other historic buildings near the western edge of the downtown.
Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minutes, September 30, 1997
Key elements that define the site character of the Public Press Building include:
- the central location on the west side of Vaughan Street between Portage and Ellice avenues, near the Young Men's Christian Association and Isbister School, with the structure set flush to the public sidewalk
Key exterior elements that define the building's solid Neo-Classical character include:
- the three-storey rectangular form, symmetrically massed, of reinforced concrete construction with a raised foundation, brick walls and flat roof
- the corners defined by shallow tower-like pavilions adorned with pilasters, lesenes, pediments and, on the front (east) facade, high segmental-arched entrances in smooth-cut stone surrounds
- the abundant fenestration on all sides, enhanced by a south light well and composed mostly of tall flat-headed openings in various arrangements, including oversized transoms above the front doors, etc.
- the front's horizontal and vertical articulation through the use of pilasters and banding elements, contrasted with the relatively flat wall surfaces of the other elevations
- the expressive use of materials, primarily smooth stone highlights selectively applied on a backdrop of dark brown brick, including a stone band between the main and second floors, stone pilaster bases and capitals, lintels, windowsills, keystones, coping, etc.
- other features and details, including decorative brickwork around openings, in spandrels, at the tops of pilasters, etc., stylized ironwork screening the front basement windows, the rear elevation's light-coloured brick finish, loading dock and single door, etc.
Key internal elements that define the building's heritage character include:
- the spacious south lobby with an elevator and a wide staircase to the mezzanine level
- surviving materials, finishes and details, including the marble-panelled walls and flooring in the lobby, staircases with marble treads and wrought-iron and hardwood balustrades, exposed brick walls, the rear staircase, freight elevator and dumb waiter, etc.