Around four years ago, I wrote a short piece for Ottawa Start about the Elphin Apartments, at the corner of Gladstone and Metcalfe in Ottawa’s Centretown. Given the parameters, I was generally pleased with the results but one thing really bothered me: just who was behind the apartment?
It has now been a few years since I first wrote about the Gilbert Apartments, formerly located at 293 Lisgar and soon to be the site of a new 108-unit Claridge apartment. The Werner Noffke-designed walkup was neat as a pin, but had not really received the care it might otherwise have in the intervening decades and had reached its end of life.
Just a heads-up: this one does talk about the death of senior citizens in a relatively recent period.
If you’ve had a chat with me in the last year or so, there is a good chance that I found occasion to slip something about apartments, Centretown, or both into the conversation. It should come as no surprise that during the Depression, construction of all sorts ground to a virtual halt. If you were take a look around the neighbourhood during those years, it would appear that someone forgot to let a small group of developers know that the party was over.
Metcalfe street was once more akin to the Montreal’s Golden Square Mile than to the mixed-use neighbourhood that it is today. After having been subdivided, the Colonel By Estate’s lots were quickly purchased by local merchants and politicians who constructed large homes, some of which, like the Booth House or Birkett’s Castle, were quite ornate and continued to be appreciated today.