Connect with us

CA.News

A coveted historic home | The Press

Published

on

Who will manage to get their hands on the Major house, located on Guy Street, just across from the former motherhouse of the Gray Nuns of Montreal? The question has been pending for months. And cause concern. What fate will the future owner reserve for this property rich in history?

You have probably already seen this sumptuous residence built in the 1850s and wondered who occupied it. For several decades, this house erected by James Edward Major, on the lands of notary and surveyor Étienne Guy, has had a charitable vocation.

Purchased by the Church Home in 1890, it was used to house women in need, especially immigrant women who came to settle in Montreal, under the name of Résidence Fulford. For several years, she had been providing services to the elderly.

Designed to accommodate nearly 35 people, Résidence Fulford has seen a third of its residents succumb to COVID-19. So we made the decision to put it on sale in June 2021.

The thing quickly came to the ears of Marina Boulos-Winton, general manager of Chez Doris, an organization that helps women in difficulty. The latter explained to me the great transformation that her refuge is currently experiencing. Its services are multiplying, its role is expanding.

A day center that has always been there, Chez Doris (in addition to offering temporary services during the pandemic) will soon inaugurate a night shelter with 22 beds, as well as two permanent residences (De Champlain and Saint-André).

Since 2017, Chez Doris has observed a sharp increase in the number of homeless women and a greater range of needs to be met. “This group represented 20 to 30% of our clientele,” Marina Boulos-Winton told me. It is now 60% of our clientele. »

Chez Doris wishes to continue this expansion by acquiring the Major house. Marina Boulos-Winton quickly obtained a sum (more than 4 million dollars) from the federal government (CMHC) for the purchase and renovation of the house.

A letter of intent was submitted to the board of directors of Résidence Fulford last July, through Atelier Habitation Montréal, a social economy NPO that supports organizations in the development of community housing projects.

This place is perfect for us, because the rooms already exist and we could continue the mission that this residence has always had.

Marina Boulos-Winton, general manager of Chez Doris

In this letter of intent, “a price taking into account the value of the building in its current state” is indicated. It should be noted that the value on the assessment roll of the Major house is 4 million dollars. Atelier Habitation Montréal intends to submit an official purchase offer shortly.

Another key aspect in this case is that the Chez Doris project ensures the maintenance of the heritage character of this house which, miraculously, has managed to preserve a “state of integrity and exceptional authenticity”, according to Héritage Montréal.

Alerted by noises from behind the scenes evoking the specter of greedy promoters, the organization, which works to protect Montreal’s heritage, sent a request for classification of the Major house to the Minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy.

Héritage Montréal was once again able to count on the tireless Phyllis Lambert to lead this operation. “The evaluation of the heritage interest of the Major house is in progress,” a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Culture confirmed to me on Friday.

This classification, if obtained, will probably not suit certain promoters who will no longer have the freedom to transform the residence or the land as they wish. “The house could be sold, but we couldn’t just do anything,” Taïka Baillargeon, assistant policy director at Héritage Montréal, told me.

According to Mme Boulos-Winton, a major player would be at the start of the acquisition of this property, and it would be Concordia University, which owns several buildings in this sector (including the mother house of the Gray Nuns). “There is not a lot of transparency at the moment, deplores the director of Chez Doris. We were told that Concordia wants the building because they need the land. »

I wanted to know more about the intentions of the university establishment. I was simply told that “let’s not discuss the possibility of acquiring potential real estate”. We do not want the sharing of information to lead to one-upmanship.

But remember that Concordia University recently acquired the former Bar B Barn restaurant (which was located at 1201 Guy Street), a smaller building than the Major house, for a significant sum. Bought by a numbered company in March 2020 for $8.8 million, the restaurant was sold nine months later to Concordia University for $15 million, reported Montreal Gazette last November.

Do you now understand the concern of the management of Chez Doris? Do you understand the type of negotiations that are taking place at the moment?

The Fulford Residence was no more eloquent than Concordia University. “We expect to receive a number of offers,” David McEntyre, vice-chairman of the board of directors (chairman Mary Irwin-Gibson, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Montreal) told me.

Marina Boulos-Winton finds the decision the owners are taking so long to make infuriating. “Obviously it’s a question of money. One has to wonder right now who has the deepest pockets. »

If the organization Chez Doris cannot obtain this residence, it will use the federal money to acquire another building. But if the Major house passes into the hands of an ambitious owner, the appearance of these places could take various forms.

“That’s why we want to make sure that elected officials and authorities are alerted,” Taïka Baillargeon told me. It is important that everyone follows this file and that protection is ensured. »

As I have already written, the fate of many historic buildings in Quebec is often at stake when it is too late to act. In the case of the Major house, we can’t say we didn’t know.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *