Thieves ruin brass doors on Exchange heritage building


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Thieves have stolen a piece of Winnipeg’s history.

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Thieves have stolen a piece of Winnipeg’s history.

A section of the ornate brass front doors at 460 Main St. was cut out and taken away this week.

Bob Brown, president of Leon A. Brown, a real estate and property management firm, said he couldn’t believe it when he saw the damage to the former Royal Bank of Canada main branch.

Bob Brown / Winnipeg Free Press

The ornate brass front doors at 460 Main St. after the robbery.

His grandfather founded the company, and his late father bought and renovated heritage buildings in the 1970s.

“He would be devastated if he saw this,” he said on Friday. “I was horrified and devastated when I saw it. It has been there 100 years and nothing happened to it until now.

“It’s such a sad thing to see this happen to a piece of art, because that’s what it is, a piece of public art.”

Brown said the brass doors featured four serpents and ornate spindles.

“Three (of the serpents) have been damaged and one is lost,” he said. “They tried to take them all and that’s how they were damaged.”

Brown said shortly after a suspect took the stolen pieces to a scrap dealer, and then ran off when the owner became suspicious, police found some of the missing sections.

“I don’t know how they did it, but they went to a residence in the North End and found them,” he said.

“We are going to reconstruct the doors.”

The Manitoba Historical Society says the building, which is listed as a designated historic site by the city, was built in 1900 as a three-storey structure for a wholesale merchant.

The Royal Bank bought the building in 1906, expanding it to four floors and putting on a new facade.

Bob Brown / Winnipeg Free Press

One of the damaged serpents. recovered from a residence in the North End.

The building continued as a bank until the mid-1920s when the Royal Bank merged with the Union Bank of Canada and moved into the tower on William Avenue, across from city hall.

A report on the heritage value of the “Italian Renaissance palazzo-style building” makes special mention of the “Romanesque brass screen doors” at the front.

Winnipeg police say they are continuing to investigate, but no charges have been laid.

Police spokesman Const. Jay Murray said they learned about the theft on Tuesday.

“It is believed the theft occurred between Sept. 12 and 13,” Murray said.

“Officers have since recovered some of the metal, but other pieces remain outstanding.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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