February 8, 2024
Progress at Kennedy House! Phase II Commences
Phase II of the “Kennedy House Restoration Project” has begun! This phase will include upgrading the building to meet fire and safety codes, and is primarily focused on the main floor to ensure the public can visit the building in the future. The main floor washroom is being relocated to the den adjacent to the main entrance, while the existing washroom is being incorporated in the kitchen. This will allow for both a larger washroom and kitchen, with upgrades throughout. Despite these improvements, the kitchen will still remain limited to light food preparation, as large cooking appliances cannot be accommodated without major structural changes. All of the work will be done with Kennedy House’s history in mind, choosing solutions and finishes that best suit this important heritage structure while allowing it to be modernized. It is anticipated that phase II will be completed by early summer 2024 if not in the late spring.
Kennedy House is a rare 1866 Gothic Revival house built with local fieldstone for William Kennedy, a Métis businessman, explorer and missionary from Cumberland House, Saskatchewan. Originally called Maple Grove, the home was built on lot 63 in St. Andrew’s Parish (now 417 River Road in the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews), a property that Kennedy inherited from his mother, Aggathas Bear. Constructed by stonemason Duncan McRae, who also built St. Andrew’s-on-the-Red Anglican Church and Old Kildonan Presbyterian Church, the two and a half storey home was a major stylistic departure from the plain Georgian style homes in the area. Kennedy House was a peaceful family retreat on the banks of the Red River until it was sold in 1892. After changing ownership several time, being expanded and renovated, the home operated as the unofficial “Red River House Museum” before it was purchased by the Province of Manitoba in 1980. Some conservation work was completed on the house and grounds, and the “Captain Kennedy Tea House” opened in the glass verandah, with a museum in the rest of the building.
By April 2015, Kennedy House was operating as the popular and successful “Maple Grove Tea Room” with adjoining museum when it was abruptly closed. An engineering report indicated that the house needed structural work, including long term conservation work, and could no longer be safely occupied. Despite pressure from community advocates and Heritage Winnipeg, it was not until December 17th, 2021 that the province announced the “Kennedy House Restoration Project” and began work on the deteriorating structure. Phase I of the project involved tackling pressing structural repairs to the foundation and first floor, completed in 2022. Phase III of the project will include waterproofing the house’s foundation and landscaping, including repairs and upgrading to the patio. It is hoped that phase III will begin later in 2024.
Thank you to the Kennedy House Renewal Committee for this update on Kennedy House!