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Villa Louise Heritage Site

Corner view photo of Villa Louise

Corner view photo of Villa Louise. photo courtesy of Stephen Hayter

Front view photo of Villa Louise

Front view of Villa Louise. photo courtesy of Stephen Hayter

Villa Louise, completed in 1888. is an exceptional example of the Italianate Villa style.

Part of the Picturesque Movement in nineteenth century North American design, the Italianate Villa style featured low-pitched roofs, wide eaves with decorative brackets, and wide verandahs.

Villa Louise, with its striking appearance, generous size and extensive grounds, was a landmark in early Brandon. Once common in Manitoba, examples of this style are now extremely rare.

Manitoba Heritage Resources Branch

The stately Villa Louise, the earliest known local project by a prolific and respected architect, Walter H. Shillinglaw, is an exquisite rendering of the style, as evidenced by its low-pitched roof, ornately bracketed eaves, wide verandah, bay windows, graceful brickwork and fine interior appointments.

The large brick dwelling’s setting within spacious grounds on a corner site adds to its prominence within its central neighbourhood.

The original occupant, Dr. Alexander Fleming, opened Brandon’s first medical practice in 1881 and was one of the founders of the general hospital and the first chairman of the school board. Another noted citizen, Isaac Robinson, owner of the Empire Brewing Co., also is associated with Villa Louise.

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Villa Louise site include:

its corner location in a residential area close to Brandon’s downtown business district

the building’s placement, set back on a slightly elevated lot, facing south over a wide lawn skirted by mature trees on the west and north and a low stone fence to the south and east

Key exterior elements that define the building’s exceptional Italianate villa character include:

the tall two-storey massing, rectangular in form, with a substantial two-storey pavilion and one-storey extension to the west, and bay windows on the front (south) and east elevations

the moderately pitched, truncated hip roof with wide eaves supported by scrolled wooden brackets in pairs and singles

the walls of buff brick on a stone foundation, with finely crafted brick detailing, including quoins at each corner, segmental-arched window heads, dual drip mouldings extended as stringcourses, etc.

the large wraparound wooden verandah supported by squared columns

the fitting fenestration, with tall rectangular sash windows in wood surrounds set singly and in pairs, some flat-headed, others under segmental arches

the formal symmetry of the primary facade, with a wide projecting round-arched entrance set between matching angled bay windows, and paired second-floor openings flanking a wide central window

details such as the narrow wood stringcourse connecting the bases of the brackets, decorative wood fascia on two bays, rectangular brick chimneys, etc.

Key elements that define the dwelling’s well-appointed interior character include:

the centre-hall plan with Dr. Fleming’s modest office directly at the end of a large vestibule and stair hall

the spacious main-floor living spaces with high ceilings, including a large kitchen, summer kitchen and rear service staircase

the second-floor layout with bedrooms grouped around the central staircase landing and a narrow hallway leading west towards an additional room

the attractive open wood staircase with a curved balustrade, etched panels, brass trim, elaborate newel post lamp, etc.

the fine woodwork throughout, notably on the double doors into the living rooms, the living-room archway trim, the dining-room wainscotting and the transoms above the doors, all with stain-and-varnish finishes

the decorative glazing, such as etched glass panels on living room doors, coloured glass sidelights on the front door and etched glass panels over the entrance doors

fixtures and details such as the marble-trimmed fireplace with a mirror above, decorative plaster crown mouldings, pressed metal kitchen ceiling, cast-iron radiators, brass fittings on doors, vestibule coat hooks, dining room chandelier, wood floors on the second level, etc.

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