A (Bel)grave Situation (Belgrave Terrace or the Franconna Apartments, 1925)

The home of John F. Hurdman, Belgrave Terrace, Franconna Apartments. Image: June 2015.
The home of Robert Hurdman, Belgrave Terrace, Franconna Apartments. Image: June 2015.

Centretown’s buildings have a number of stories to tell. Some of those stories are tragic, some are tales of faded business glory, and others still are tales of the night life┬áthat once kept Ottawa hopping. Still waters run deep, as the saying goes. As is the case with so many of the apartments that Centretowners call home, the Franconna Apartments began life as large single-family home. After playing host to a number of elites in its first twenty years, it was converted into an apartment (named Belgrave Terrace): a common fate that befell these homes once they hit a certain age. Backing on to Gladstone Avenue, the apartment was then threatened with the potential for demolition when the city sought to widen what was then a 30 foot side-street to a four-lane traffic corridor. While the rear annex bears the scars of the widening, that half of it still stands is a testament to the sorts of pressure faced by planners during the middle of the twentieth century.