Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

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MacKenzie Block

Formerly:MacKenzie Block
Bright and Johnston Building
Address:141 Bannatyne Avenue
Constructed:1903
Architects:J. H. G. Russell
Tours:Part of the QR Code Tour

More Information

The MacKenzie Block is a four-storey brick warehouse built in 1903 in Winnipeg's historic downtown Exchange District. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.

The MacKenzie Block is an adroit example of one of the typical ways in which burgeoning warehouse operations in Winnipeg expanded their spatial requirements at the turn of the twentieth century - by adding a nearly identical building to the original. Developed for grocers Bright and Johnston, the Romanesque Revival-style facility is interrelated aesthetically and structurally with the older Swiss Building to the east. The two are further integrated by sharing a party wall and a rare interior driveway with openings at both ends. Efficient interior features and location next to a railway spur line also enhanced the warehouse's attractiveness to business occupants, notably crockery wholesaler Bright and Sons, successor to Bright and Johnston, and W.L. MacKenzie and Co., a manufacturers' agent. With an exterior that remains largely unchanged since its construction, this rehabilitated building makes an important contribution to the integrity of its early streetscape in the Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada.

Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minutes, January 15, 1993

Design Characteristics

  • Key elements that define the heritage character of the MacKenzie Block site include:
  • - the building's placement on the north side of Bannatyne Avenue between Rorie Street and the Red River among other warehouses of earlier or similar age, with its front flush to the public sidewalk
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  • Key elements that define the warehouse's simplified Romanesque Revival style include:
  • - the L-shaped four-storey massing of mill construction with solid sand-coloured brick walls, an exposed rough-cut stone base and flat roof
  • - the modestly ornamented main (south) facade, divided by brick pilasters into four bays, all accented by corbelled brickwork, especially above the third floor and along the cornice-parapet
  • - the front's orderly arrangement of windows, including tall rectangles, segmental-arched or flat-headed on the first three floors, some with brick drip-moulding and/or keystones, all with stone lug sills; narrow round-arched windows along the top, etc.
  • - the rear ell with its relatively flat and plain brick walls, carefully aligned fenestration, segmental- and round-arched loading doors, etc.
  • - details such as recessed southwest corner entrance, the plank loading doors, the wood bumpers along the driveway wall, a metal sign that extends atop the front parapet and adjoining Swiss Building, etc.
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  • Key elements that define the block's function-driven interior character include:
  • - the informal plan organized by a grid of squared wooden posts and beams
  • - the large wooden staircase and the exposed ceilings with sections of pressed tin
  • - the details, including some exposed brick walls, some maple flooring, etc.

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