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May 29, 2024

Decaying Heritage: Holy Trinity Anglican Church & Polson House

Locals Express Concern for the Fate of Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Recently, Winnipeggers have been buzzing with concern for the state of Holy Trinity Anglican Church. The concern comes after a Church report recently shared with the congregation acknowledged the needed repairs. The Winnipeg Free Press quoted the report as follows:

“since the late 1980’s, this parish has operated with the knowledge that major repairs to build a foundation under the historic church would be necessary to avoid a collapse. It is still not clear when, exactly, the collapse will occur, but signs of structural distress continue to present themselves with increasing urgency.”

The knowledge that the report refers to comes from a 1989 Geological Survey that revealed that the building had no foundation. This is not the only structural issue that the building is facing. In an interview with CBC, Heritage Winnipeg Executive Director Cindy Tugwell shared that “decades ago there were indications that work should have been done”. A 2007 City of Winnipeg report on the site noted water damage on the interior walls.

What most perplexes Tugwell is the fact that Holy Trinity lived with this information for so long without seeking outside support. The estimated cost of repairs for the church has now reached over $7 million, a cost that Tugwell believes could have been minimized by immediate action. “This should have been done a long, long time ago,” Tugwell explained in an interview with the Free Press. “They should have sold it before it became too cost-prohibitive for someone else to do.”

Holy Trinity is a Victorian-era Gothic-revival style church and was the first major Winnipeg project of British Designer Charles H. Wheeler. It was built in 1884 and was designated as a National Historic site in 1990 and was added to the City of Winnipeg’s list of Historical Resources in 2008. It is one of two pre-1890 Anglican Churches left in the city, and its location is significant within the history of Winnipeg’s development. Heritage Winnipeg has not been consulted by the church and had no knowledge of the buildings disrepair until recently.

 

Sources:

“A historic church in Winnipeg is hoping for some salvation”Information Radio – MB with Marcy Marcusa, 27 May 2024

“Historic church in downtown Winnipeg could face demolition by parishioners hope for salvation”Arturo Chang for CBC News, 26 May 2024

“Praying for seven million miracles”Kevin Rollason for the Winnipeg Free Press, 24 May 2024

 

Demolition by Neglect Leads to New Development on 94 Cathedral Street

The Polson house (located 94 Cathedral) is unfortunately destined for demolition in the near future. The house has been in extreme disrepair for many years due to lack of maintenance and repairs, and sadly is now beyond saving. Heritage Winnipeg Executive Director Cindy Tugwell spoke to the Winnipeg Free Press on the issue, calling it “classic demolition by neglect”. She explained that the costs to repair the house are extreme and the vacancy would make financing difficult for a single-family home. With a heavy heart, Tugwell co-signed a letter supporting the demolition in early May 2024. On Wednesday, May 29th, the decision was finalized as the City Council’s appeal committee voted to allow the demolition and new development to proceed.

The site developer has been consulting with Heritage Winnipeg and the Seven Oaks Historical Society and recently provided a tour of the house to both organizations. Both are hoping to preserve the homes’ character-defining elements, as well as possibly erecting a plaque in front of the new property.

While it is disheartening to see another piece of Winnipeg’s built heritage come face to face with a wrecking ball, it is a testament to the dangers of property neglect. Old houses require care and devotion, consistent repairs and attention. As we’ve seen with Polson house, when these needs are not met, the consequences may be dire.

On a positive note, after the demolition, infill housing with several rental properties will go in its place, and will increase the density of the neighbourhood. Over many years this neglected house contributed to urban blight on the street and created safety and crime issues in the area. While it may not match the historic streetscape, the neighbourhood will benefit from the addition of the new development, while having a good relationship with the developer.

 

Sources:

“Historic Luxton House Faces ‘Demolition by Neglect'”, Kevin Rollason and Malak Abas for the Winnipeg Free Press, 28 May 2024.

“Historic Polson House to be Knocked Down”Joyanne Pursaga for the Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 2024.

Featured image: Holy Trinity Anglican Church, circa 1900. Source: Martin Berman Postcard Collection (Winnipeg Public Library)
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