Logged in as user  [Login]  |
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Key Number: HS 54357
Site Name: Westminster Apartments
Other Names:
Site Type: 0104 - Residential: Apartment Building


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 9955 - 114 Street
Number: 55
Street: 114
Avenue: 99
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Style: Classical Revival
Plan Shape: L
Storeys: Storeys: 3
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Undetermined
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Flat
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: None
Wall Design and Detail: None
Plain Eaves
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Concrete
Roof Trim - Verges: Not Applicable
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Concrete
Towers, Steeples and Domes: None
Dormer Type: None
Chimney Location - Side to Side: None
Roof Trim - Special Features: None
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Wood
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Material: Wood
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Number of Sashes: One
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Window - Special Types: None
Window - Pane Arrangements: 2 over 2
Main Entrance - Location: Centre (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Wood
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 1
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: None
Main Porch - Type: Closed Porch
Main Porch - Special Features: None
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: Symmetrical flat-roofed block with central entry; projecting cornice; decorative quoining and insets made of terra cotta.
The L-shaped building is clad on the two principal elevations with a distinctive brown/red, wire-cut brick. The textured finish of the brick is accented with elaborated corbelling and repetitive horizontal rustication banding extending from the basement foundation line to the belt course separating the main and second floors. This treatment emphasizes the base of the building. The belt course wraps around the entire building perimeter and acts as a strong unifying element.
Hanging, glazed-surfaced pendants add decorative emphasis at the main corner and entrance of the building. The rear building elevations are clad with a utilitarian grey brick that contrasts and engages at the corners with the warmer-toned principal brick. A deeply projecting cornice of painted metal, complete with decorative flower rosettes, serves to define and complete the classical ordering of the building.
The Westminster facade is interspersed with distinctive and unique porcelain glazed accent tiles. Decorative brick panelled wall areas are defined between the second and third floors and at the ends of the building with projecting brick header courses having inset glazed square and diamond tile motifs. Tiles of various shapes and sizes are also used to indentify and accent the main building entrance on 114 Street, the corners of the building (implied quoins), and at intervals along the cornice band at the top of the building.
Elaborate brick corbelling and detail tile work is also evident on the chimney projections at the roof level at the east end of the building.
Other noteworthy exterior design features occur at the main building entrance. These iclude an arched Tudor transom light with flanking globe lights, ceramic tile floors, wood wainscotting, oak entry doors, and oak sidelights eith brass rails and kickplates.
Interior: Arched Tudor transom light with flanking globe lights, ceramic tile floors, wood wainscotting, oak entry doors, and oak sidelights with brass rails and kickplates. The 24 apartment suites in the building offer an interesting range of unit types and sizes: large one bedroom suites (1,200 sq.ft.), small one bedroom suites (660-700 sq.ft.), small two bedroom corner suites (1,000 sq.ft. - without dining space) and large two bedroom suites 1,100-1,200 sq.ft.). The original design and layout features of the apartments remain intact and include a generous main hallway, panelled wood doors, decorative ceiling mouldings and plate rails, wide stained wood trims at doors and windows, hardwood (maple) floors, fireplaces, cast iron tubs and sinks, brass curtain rods, glass panel medicine cabinets and glass panelled kitchen cupboards. The original dumbwaiter shaft and small access door located in the kitchen areas exist but are no longer functional. Individual tenant storage rooms are provided in the basement.
Environment: Neighbourhood: Oliver District Corner location; set close to street. The Westminster is a familiar neighbourhood landmark. It is conspicuous because of its massing, corner location, and finishes. The L-shaped apartment building relates directly to its prominent 100 Avenue corner location. It has minimal setbacks from the street and is positioned for optimal views and light penetration to all apartment units. The residential area surrounding the Westminster Apartments is a mix of single-family houses, residential apartment conversions, high-rise apartments and commercial land use. In terms of scale and massing, the building relates contextually with the general height and form of the original, two and one-half storey, single family residences in the area, as well as to the LeMarchand Mansion one block west. The historic residential streetscape is intact for one block to the west along 100 Avenue, for a half-block to the southwest and for two blocks to the east.
Condition: Good
Alterations: The Westminster has had only minor alterations made to it over the last seventy-nine years. A number of suites in the building have had minor cosmetic changes, which include the addition of vinyl flooring and ceramic tile where hardwood has been destroyed by steam and other physical damage, random replacement of interior light fixtures, and the addition of newer fireplace facing materials. Some time during the last ten years, a new steam boiler was installed in the basement. The original maintenance room, coal room and chute are located adjacent to the boiler area and are in essentially original condition. The basement also holds a number of one-bedroom suites that were developed after the building was constructed. The original basement level layout included a rain water storage reservoir, larger caretaker spaces and various storage, laundry, mechanical and electrical metering rooms.


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Usage: Usage Date:
Apartment Dwelling
Owner: Owner Date:
Western Canada Prop. Ltd.
George Spillios, prop. American Dairy Lunch.

Architect: N/A
Builder: Western Canada Properties Ltd.
Craftsman: N/A
History: For many, Edmonton before World War I was the land of opportunity, a city growing by leaps and bounds. Western Canada Properties Limited, a development company financed with eastern Canadian capital, recognized one of the many opportunities: The shortage of accommodation for couples and single white-collar professionals.
As result, the Westminster was built in 1912, and opened in 1913. It was built at a cost of $65,000, and consisted of 24 suites in a variety of types and sizes. It had one or two bedroom suites, with and without a dining room, ranging in size from 660 to 1200 square feet. Residents have varied considerably since the Westminster first opened. First, white-collar workers were attracted. Amongst the clerks and secrtetaries, were managers, barristers and accountants.
By 1931, single and widowed women occupied half the suites, and today, the building is popular with young professionals and students.
Although standard blueprints were likely the design source for the Westminster, the building nonetheless exhibits a number of interesting architectural details. It is a three-storey, L-shaped, red brick building with two types of facade treatment. Wire-cut brick is used for the main or street elevations, and utility brick is used for the rear of the building. Decorative detailing includes projectig brick header courses, used to create pattern and texture on the two primary facades; corbelling which encircles the building just underneath the cornice; belt courses used to separate storeys; and horizontal banding, used on the first storey facades to define window sills and decorative shapes. As well, glazed porcelain tiles are used decoratively on the street elevations, and glazed-surface pendants and tiles emphasize the corners of the building. The entrance is distinguished by a tudor arch transom light, flanked by two globe lights, and double oak doors. The building's detailing is completed by a decorated mental cornice.
*** The early urban development of many cities and towns in Western Canada was fuelled by real estate speculation and land development.
As a result, many companies using eastern Canadian and British capital opened branch offices in Edmonton. The employees of these companies required more sophisticated accommodations than rooming houses, and a number of apartment buildings were constructed near major transportation arteries with this group in mind. On the western edge of downtown overlooking the river valley, the LeMarchand Mansion (1909) was the largest and finest, but apartment buildings such as the Westminster Apartments (1912), the Annamoe Mansion (1914), the Derwas Court (1914) and Buena Vista Apartments (1913) provided the same type of housing.
The Westminster Apartments were constructed in 1912 by Western Canada Properties Ltd., a land development company. The company was headed by Robert B. Scott and H.T. Tilley and financed with Eastern Canadian capital. Western Canada Properties Ltd. likely purchased blueprints for a standard apartment building from an architectural firm, rather than retaining a specific architect. They apparently also acted as their own general contractor. The three-storey building cost $65,000 to construct and opened in 1913.
Business interests of the subsequently restructured Westminster Apartments, Ltd. were represented in Edmonton by C.A. Brine Co., financial brokers. Charles Brine handled the financial affairs of the apartment block from 1912 to 1948 as part of his property management business.
The Westminster Apartments provided a popular address close to downtown for many of Edmonton's citizens. In 1913 tenants included Carey Evans, manager of Northern Lumber Co; Benjamim Goldman, barrister with Griesbach and O'Conner; and Arthur Chandler, an accountant with Chandler and Patriquin. In 1921 the Hon. G.H.V.
Bulyea, chairman of the Board of Public Works and former Lieutenant Governor of Alberta resided there briefly. By 1931, approximately half of the suites were occupied by single or widowed women. This trend continued into the 1960s. After that time, the building became a common address for students and young professionals.
The apartment building encroaches on a portion of 100 Avenue twelve inches wide for nearly 90 feet. The Westminster Apartments Ltd.
negotiated a rent with the City of Edmonton at a rate of $100 per year. This agreement expired in 1933 and an arrangement with the city reduced the annual rent to $10. The prospective owners were denied purchase of the land by the city during the sale of the building in 1947 but Council agreed that the owners could lease this land for the lifetime of the building for a nominal charge.
The apartment building was sold to George Spillios in 1948. Spillios was the proprietor of the popular Edmonton restaurant, the American Dairy Lunch, which later became known as Ciros Restaurant. After his emigration to Canada in 1912, Spillios became a well-known leader in the Greek ethnic and religious community of Edmonton. On his death in 1970, ownership of the apartment building passed to his son, Nick Spillios, President of Wstminster Apartments Ltd.
The enduring appeal of the Westminster is its ability to offer a wide variety of suite choices to renters. This allows the building to operate at very low vacancy levels and remain flexible to changing market demands. The net result has been that the building enjoys high levels of tenant loyalty and rental stability.
Public circulation areas of the building such as hallways, stairs and the main entrance area are wide and spacious. This allows for good tenant access, furniture movement and assists with natural thru- ventilation. The second and third floors originaly had resident lounges located over the main entrance (on 114 Street) in the central part of the building. The lounges have distinctive exterior window treatments and glazed french doors leading from the interior hallways.
The concept of shared communal lounge space is an unusual amenity feature for this type of building, and the lounges are presently utilized for building storage. Individual tenant storage rooms also are provided in the basement.
The centrally located freight elevator that originally serviced all floors of the building at the stair landing levels is still in place.
The elevator was accessed directly from an exterior door at the rear of the building at grade level. This allowed convenient, direct access for furniture moves. The elevator shaft has large windows at each of the floor levels and originally allowed natural light into the central interior stairwell. Since the walls separating the stairs and the elevator have been sealed with solid walls, the elevator is no longer a functional feature of the building interior.
1912 - Apartment Building under construction.
1913 - Lease signed with the City of Edmonton for encroachment.
1933 - Lease expired.
1935 - Lease to be renegotiated, denied by City.
1939 - Lease successfully renegotiated downward.
1948 - Sold to George Spillios, prop. American Dairy Lunch.
1970 - Ownership passed to current owner.
1990 - Continued operation as apartments.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List

Register: A79
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1992/12/16


Alberta Register of Historic Places:
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.

Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2023 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility