Thursday, April 03, 2008
Rubens, Rembrandt, Velasquez -- up in flames on Sherbrooke Street
Seventy-five years ago today, a fire damaged the Van Horne mansion on Sherbrooke Street West at Stanley (northeast corner), claiming a good part of its legendary art collection. This historic and irreplacable building had been home to William Cornelius Van Horne (1843-1915), art collector and genius behind the Canadian Pacific Railway -- and practically a Father of Confederation. No wonder Mayor Jean "No Peanuts" Drapeau gladly issued a $5 demolition permit to wreck it back in 1973. Despite organized opposition, it was torn down by latter-day owner David Azrieli, who had the audacity to put a vanity plaque on the hideous skyscraper that replaced it. (It was Liquid Air; now it's Sofitel). But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Back up to 40 years before the wrecking ball came down on it: the fire on Monday, April 3, 1933, caused a lot of damage to the house and the most outstanding Canadian collection of Van Horne's day, which included several Old Masters. (Some of the other great local art collections of the day belonged to Bank of Montreal president Sir George Drummond and the financier Edward Black Greenshields.)
Posted by J.D. at 10:54 p.m.