Taking a look-see at architectural splendour

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It was a beautiful day to snoop through Winnipeg's storied past on Saturday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/05/2008 (5236 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It was a beautiful day to snoop through Winnipeg’s storied past on Saturday.

The fifth annual Doors Open Winnipeg event welcomed hundreds of visitors at 50 publicly and privately owned buildings.

For the first time, the 101-year-old Dominion Bank Building at 678 Main St. opened its doors for free public tours.

“It’s impressive,” said volunteer tour guide Brendan Madden. It has a 14-foot ceiling with delicate plaster mouldings, a mosaic tile floor, and the four original bank vaults wowed visitors and the people who now work there in its incarnation as Bridgman Collaborative Architecture Ltd.

“When I walk in, I feel it’s a completely different and wonderful atmosphere,” said architectural technician, Craig Smith. “I look at the sun coming up over Thunderbird House. You can’t get better than this.”

An intern from another architectural firm stopped by Saturday. “This kind of splendour and attention to detail isn’t done any more,” said Kelly Baumgartner. “No one wants to pay for it.”

He and his wife, Dana Baumgartner, have been taking advantage of Doors Open Winnipeg since it began.

“I like the legislative building,” said Dana. “It’s timeless and classic.”

Kelly’s favourite is the Canada Permanent Mortgage Corporation building — built in 1909 — now the TelPay Building. “It’s gorgeous.”

The salmon-coloured sandstone building on Garry Street is tucked away behind the Radisson Hotel on Portage Avenue.

“Properties out west had to be mortgaged, and Winnipeg was the first stop,” said TelPay employee and tour guide John Zajic.

Homesteaders and developers looking for a loan would likely have found the three-storey edifice impressive.

It has a corner entrance with a domed, sculpted ceiling. The interior has white marble columns and a marble-tiled floor. The mahogany and oak offices have etched-glass windows. The mortgage company building was designed by Chicago architect John D. Atchison. His seven pages of blueprints are on display.

“Seven drawings for a building that lasts 100 years in Winnipeg’s climate,” Zajic mused. “That’s a testimony to the skill of the architect and the craftsmen.”

Winnipeggers should be proud of such magnificence, said Kelly Baumgartner. “All the great cities maintain their historical buildings.”

The event continues today. See doorsopenwinnipeg.ca for information.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Come on in — Winnipeg’s doors are open today

Walking tours

Mike’s Bloody Saturday walking tour

begins at the city hall at 1:00 p.m.

Downtown: The Heart of the City walking

tour begins at 426 Portage Ave.

(Downtown BIZ office) at noon.

Buildings

Mariaggi’s Theme Suite Hotel at 231

McDermot Ave. from noon to 4 p.m..

Bishop Velychovsky Martyr’s Shrine at

250 Jefferson Ave. from noon to 4:00

p.m.

Artspace, 100 Arthur St., 10:00 a.m. to

6:00 p.m.

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