Description of Historic Place
The William Donald McGregor House is a two-and-a-half-storey Colonial Revival style home readily identified by its symmetrical design and stately entrance. It was built in 1917 on the prestigious Victoria Avenue, between Elliott and Erie Streets in downtown Windsor.
It is recognized for its heritage value by the City of Windsor By-law 89-2000.
From the onset, Victoria Avenue was intended to be a gracious, residential street. The Windsor Land and Building Company placed conditions on buyers of building lots, which stipulated a minimum setback of 20 feet, a house value of at least $3000.00, and an assurance that any business carried on would not be deemed a nuisance. As a result, the earliest houses (built between 1890 and the Stock Market “Crash” of 1929) show diversity of design, quality of material and fine workmanship. They were the valued residences of some of the community's most influential and respected families during the middle period in Windsor's evolution. Victoria Avenue, from Wyandotte St. E. to Erie St., is a designated “heritage area” in Windsor's Official Plan. The William Donald McGregor House is located within this prestigious area.
The heritage value of this stately home lies in its association with prominent local citizen William Donald McGregor, a member of one the most influential families in Windsor's development. The house is also significant because it is illustrative of the quality homes built on Victoria Avenue during the early part of the twentieth century, and because it is a well-preserved example of a Colonial Revival style home.
McGregor was a member of one of Windsor's most influential families, his father William having been an MP in the Laurier government from 1896-1900, while his brother Gordon was the founder of the Ford Motor Company of Canada. McGregor, himself, was very active in Windsor's economic and social development. He worked for the Walkerville Wagon Works/Windsor Carriage Works, a family business that was essentially the forerunner to the Canadian automotive industry, and he later became a partner in the Universal Motors dealership (Universal Car Agency). He was the original chairman of the Windsor Planning Board when it was established in 1945, and he served on the Chamber of Commerce and the War Finance Committee, which ultimately earned him an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire). In 1946, he was on the steering committee to form the Community Chest, the precursor to the United Way, and in 1954 McGregor was president of Windsor's Centennial Festival Committee.
The William McGregor House was built by the R. Wescott Company in 1917 in the Colonial Revival style. Its symmetrical centre plan, dormer windows and rough stucco parging are typical of the grand style, and many of the home's original features have been well-preserved, adding to its heritage value.
Sources: The City of Windsor By-law Number 89-2000, passed March 27, 2000; Building Analysis Form, 1999: Request for Designation Report, August 16, 1999.
Character defining elements that express the heritage value include its:
- two-and-a-half-storey symmetrical centre plan
- rough stucco parging over terra cotta tile with a red Roman brick soldier course marking the foundation sill
- front windows: tri-partite with unifying round hood and lintel on first floor
- two eight over one double hung windows on second floor
- pair of eight over one sash windows over the entry on the second floor
- hipped roof with exaggerated eaves supported by closely-spaced wooden brackets
- three plain dormer windows with hipped roofs