Saturday, March 01, 2008

Cypress then and now, but not in that order

Today it's part of The Le Windsor, whatever that is. But this imposing structure on Cypress between Stanley and Peel used to be the north wing of the celebrated Windsor Hotel. And before that, there was a church.

In 1913 a local newspaper printed this illustration of a planned "palatial" hotel featuring a terra-cotta exterior and steel-and-concrete construction. The architect for the $500,000, ten-storey building was identified as Montrealer James E. Adamson. But advance plans usually get it wrong: they threw out the rococo look and feel and brought in the Second Empire instead.

And that's a 1910 picture of the Stanley Street Presbyterian Church, one of the buildings that was demolished for the project.
In its early years, the Windsor was Montreal's leading hotel as this travel account attests:

"Last though not least among the attractions of Montreal, is the number of its commodious hotels, among which the Windsor stands pre-eminent. It is built at the highest point of the city, under the shadow of the mountains, and for comfort and luxurious appointments is second to none, either on this side of the Continent or on the other. The charges here, as in all other first-class hotels, vary from two and a half to five dollars per day, inclusive, according to location of rooms. This is most moderate when compared with our [British] home charges, where the extras and sundries swell the bill till it is ready to burst with its own extortions."
-- Duffus Hardy, Through Cities and Prairie Lands (1881).

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