Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Places

Buildings

590 Main Street

Formerly:Singer Sewing Centre
Address:590 Main Street
Use:Offices
Original Use:Offices
Constructed:1939
Other Work:1949, 1986, 1993, Interior renovations
Architects:Northwood & Chivers
Contractors:Fraser MacDonald & Co. Ltd.

More Information

The 1939 Singer Building is a rare example of Art Deco architecture in Winnipeg. Designed by Northwood and Chivers Architects in 1939, it is a very restrained example of this modern, streamlined style that preferred symmetry, clean massing, rich materials, and stylised geometric or ancient motifs. Art Deco was often used for the design of high-rises, theatres, banks, and government buildings. A two-storey brick and reinforced concrete building with a facade of smooth-cut limestone and polished granite, the structure originally had two doors flanking a central storefront window. In the reconfigured storefront, there is little evidence of the elegant bronze window frames and a bronze flagpole mounting which once greeted visitors.

The building was built for the New York-based Singer Sewing Machine manufacturing company, which had occupied several premises on Main Street since 1880. The Singer Company remained at this location until well into the 1960s. Faint traces of the company name can be seen in the granite above the entry.

Design Characteristics

  • Site: 20.35 ft. frontage (6.2 m); irregular side and rear lot lines
  • Plan area: 2,000 sq. ft. (185.8 sq. m)
  • Gross floor area: 6,000 sq. ft. (557.4 sq. m)
  •  
  • Two-storeys with basement
  • Constructed with reinforced concrete footings and columns, 14" concrete basement walls
  • Concrete slab floor with a polished cement finish
  • Superstructure constructed with hollow concrete tile and brick walls
  • Interior structure of reinforced concrete columns and beams
  • 20-year bonded roof with a skylight
  • Tyndall Stone cladding with black granite at the base
  • Bronze front window sash, concrete and tile coping, concrete stone window sills (west and rear elevations)

Sources

  • Journal of the Architectural Institute of Canada, 17, 11 (November 1940), p. 195.
  • Brad Skillman, "Singer tries to sew up its finances," Winnipeg Free Press, September 14, 1999, p. B5.

Locations of Supporting Information

  • City of Winnipeg Archives
  • University of Manitoba Libraries, Department of Archives and Special Collections, Winnipeg Tribune Subject Clipping Research Files