As a follow up to these posts about the Grenfell Apartments which sparked a lot of discussion, Martin and I spent some time at the Regina Public Library a few weeks ago looking through old microfiche to find some info about this now non-existent, architecturally provocative building from Regina’s past.
So, without further ado… the Grenfell Apartments, reprise!
We found this whole page from the Regina Leader around the time the apartments were being built which includes a few write ups about the features of the building (sound proof walls and full sized kitchens!) as well as ads for the companies who’s products or services were associated with the building. This, as well as the image above were really the only things we found regarding the beginnings of this building.
We did find a few articles around the time the building was up for demolition though. These two talk about the fight of one woman, Geraldine Molloy, to try and save the Grenfell Apartments. It is interesting when reading these, to see similarities to recent developments in Regina and the postitions on either side.
Finally, these two articles delve a little deeper into what may have prompted the decision to knock down the Grenfell Apartments. What I think is really interesting here is that they also draw comparisons to the Balfour and the Fronteac Apartments. Today, these buildings are some of the most coveted blocks in the city to live in (and no doubt the Grenfell could’ve likely been similar today). I had the privilege of living in the Frontenac for four years and will never forget it. Dick Leigh (interviewed in one of the articles) and his wife Sandy were amazing landlords who cared so deeply for that building and kept it in amazing condition. I felt so lucky to live in such a unique and historic space in the city. On the 75th anniversary of the building, Dick and Sandy gave every tenent a copy of the Regina Leader article from the building’s opening. I believe I still have it stashed somewhere. Had I not moved to Montreal, I would likely still live there.
So – with all of this in mind, I think it is important to evaluate the unique place that older buildings hold in our current development mind-set. We often see only the challenges and obstacles that come with older buildings, but I think there is a lot to be gained by going the extra distance to keep an interesting or provocative building around and rehab it to be useful again (within reason). I think we can all agree that walking past the Balfour or Frontenac is a much more rewarding and inspiring experience than reading about the Grenfell Apartments and thinking of what could have been.
(Note: All of these images were scanned at a high resolution so that hopefully people can read the articles, and advertisements.)