City to study heritage tag for former Odd Fellows home
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The City of Winnipeg will study a potential heritage designation for a former Independent Order of Odd Fellows Home in Charleswood.
On Tuesday, council’s property and development committee cast a final, unanimous vote to reject an appeal from the building’s owner.
The appeal had aimed to prevent the structure at 4025 Roblin Blvd. from being explored as a possible addition to the city’s list of historical resources. Such a designation would protect key “character-defining elements” of the structure and prevent its demolition.
“The community came out in support of (the) heritage designation, our (planning property and development) director has looked at it… Now, it will be up to the heritage committee to decide what elements of that should be declared heritage,” said Coun. Cindy Gilroy, development committee chairwoman.
The decision came after Danny Serhal, a representative of the Odd Fellows, told the committee the building’s interior has already undergone “extensive modifications.” He said its owners will continue to take good care of the structure but fear a heritage designation would limit what they can do with it in the future.
“They have been good stewards of this building for a century, and they’ve been operating as a wonderful charity that serves our community so well… They, as the owners of the building, object to this sort of added layer of bureaucracy that comes along with this designation,” said Serhal.
A city report notes the structure originally provided a home for the elderly, orphans and others in need. The building was renovated in 2001 to become the Assiniboine Links assisted living facility.
Residents and heritage protection advocates urged the committee to approve the designation and preserve the building.
“It’s become a landmark for our community… I feel this building should respectfully be designated as historical due to its age, its contents, its integrity and mostly in recognition to its significant contribution to the community over the years… Sure, it’s 100 years old, but it’s in great shape,” said Kathy Gibbings.
“It’s historical, it’s worthy, it needs to be protected,” added Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg.
The nomination so far aims to protect the entire exterior and interior of the building constructed in 1922, though not the green space around it. The city’s historical buildings and resources committee will evaluate the structure in detail, then recommended what, if any, specific elements warrant protection.
Recommendations on which elements to preserve would return for future city hall votes.
City staff say the building has several important features, including its solid brick superstructure, local stone accents and reinforced concrete foundation typical of the early 1920s.
Gilroy said she doesn’t expect the potential designation will interfere with future plans for the site.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.