A few weeks back, I wrote a bit on the Sandringham Apartments in Sandy Hill. While browsing the Panda Associates collection at the University of Calgary, I came across a few more views and have shared them here.
The Sandringham Apartments, located at the far eastern edge of Sandy Hill on what was once known as Regan’s Hill,1”‘Regan’s Hill’ Received It’s Name From Henry Regan and His Sons 185[?],” Ottawa Citizen, March 31, 1928, 16. has been overlooking Strathcona Park since its completion in 1958. Its developers, Range Road Developments pulled out all the stops and hired Peter Dickinson, then of Page and Steele, to design an apartment aimed at the luxury market.2For a great tour of Dickinson’s work in Ottawa, see Robert Smythe’s “Peter Dickinson in Ottawa,” (2009).
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↥||”‘Regan’s Hill’ Received It’s Name From Henry Regan and His Sons 185[?],” Ottawa Citizen, March 31, 1928, 16.|
|2.||↥||For a great tour of Dickinson’s work in Ottawa, see Robert Smythe’s “Peter Dickinson in Ottawa,” (2009).|
With all of the beautiful and interesting heritage properties that stand in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood, it’s somewhat interesting that the apartments above are (a) the first buildings that I really remember loving in the neighbourhood, and (b) still among my favourite. In a setting filled with delightful institutional architecture and numerous Victwardian houses, for some, it would be a wonder that a small handful of 1930s apartments are what have stuck in my mind.
As I recently wrote in a recent story about Le Versailles apartments on Henderson (1964), I find the midcentury apartments in Sandy Hill to be “just slightly a cut above” those in the remainder of the city. Although it may lack the flourish of Le Versailles, Constantine Zourdoumis’ Albany Apartments at 305 Nelson is a tidy example of the style.
Midcentury Modern. Modernism. International Style. Whatever one’s choice term to describe the style of architecture, the road to recognition of buildings in the style as being worthy of preservation on a heritage basis has been a long one and the journey is far from over. Today, most would still take one look at the building above and fail to shed a tear over its 1994 demolition. Even among those who were present to advocate for its preservation, the arguments usually had more to do with who designed it than they did with what it was.
Since moving to Ottawa in 2000, I have spent more time exploring the city on foot than I can recount and Sandy Hill has always been one of my favourites. As you can probably expect from me on this blog, it’s less so the grand homes that define the neighbourhood (though they are lovely), but rather the most interesting mix of apartment styles that grace the area. The midcentury apartment designs, to my eye, have often been just slightly a cut above the remainder of the city, including in my own home turf of Centretown. Among them are Pat Gillin’s Chanteclair and Sans Souci, the Bachelor, the Summit, and my favourite, Réal St-Amour’s own Le Versailles (pictured above).
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” At least, so the popular saying goes. The market for apartment buildings in the early 1960s was hot. Really hot. It was during this time that such large builders like Mastercraft, Assaly, Minto, and numerous others started looking upwards as much as they were outward into the greenfield development they had been through the 1950s. The action wasn’t limited to the larger players, however.
Back in March, I transcribed the list of apartment buildings from the 1945 Might’s Directory of the City of Ottawa and ran some minor analysis of the proportion of apartment buildings in each of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods. I decided to jump ahead to 1955, as a massive transition in the Canadian housing market was well underway.
If you’ve run into me lately, you were doubtlessly entreated to some words about apartment buildings in Ottawa. I can’t help it, the topic has been rolling around in my mind for a decade or so.