File 105 - University Club of Montreal

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University Club of Montreal

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CA CAC 1-3-105

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  • February 1912-September 1913 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

167 drawings : 15 ink on linen, 3 ink on card, 133 pencil on paper, 16 blueprints
65 photographs
textual records (4 folders)

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File consists of architectural records for recreational club (detached, partial basement, 5 floors, 7 reception rooms, roof terrace; brick and stone; composite), including:
8 survey drawings: site plan, floor plans, elevations, sections
1 sketch drawing: dining room (plaster decoration)
7 development drawings: floor plans
14 working drawings: excavation and foundation plan, floor plans, roof plan, elevations, sections
125 detail drawings: site plan, plan alterations, masonry, stonework (including cornice, parapet), windows, fireplaces, doors, structure, railing, plasterwork (including cornices), room plans, finishes, trims, stairs, staircase, lighting, transom, fittings, interior archway, balusters, stained glass, ironwork (including fender, fireplace basket), cue rack, furniture, skirting and architrave, radiator cover
9 consultant drawings: electric lift, structural framing, mechanical plans and elevation, refrigerators
3 record drawings: floor plans, elevation -
65 photographs: 1 elevation; 2 plans; 3 finished exteriors; 36 finished interiors; 12 details; 11 others
4 file folders: correspondence

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General note

Notable and extensive architect-designed fittings and furniture including plasterwork, stained glass, mantelpieces, panelling, heraldry, elliptical staircase. Fine sculpted heads on main facade symbolize elements in man's life: Death, Woman, Youth, Inspiration and Fate. Presentation watercolour elevation and specifications at University Club. See also op. nos. 0180a, 0180b and 0180c for drawings for expanded and new club 1930. See also 3d objects no. 26.

General note

The University Club of Montreal was founded in 1907 as a private venue. The building, located at 2047 Mansfield Street in Montreal, was designed by Percy Nobbs in 1912 in collaboration with George Taylor Hyde. The elegant Neo-Georgian façade, inspired by row houses in London, reflected what was then the residential character of Mansfield Street. The five-storey building is clad in red brick with part of its revetment and sculpted ornamental elements in pale limestone. Three different tiers of fenestration are discernible, each contributing to a rhythmic modulation of the façade: arcaded windows on the first floor followed by rectangular windows on the second, and finally the attic storey, surmounted by a balustrade designed to mask the roof. For Nobbs, ornament was an essential carrier of meaning in architecture: “ornament like the spoken word, may hint at the ineffable or merely state the obvious, and its phrases have values great or small, quite separate from the technical values of cadence and rhythm or colour scheme and composition brought into play by artistic elaboration.” (Susan Wagg, Percy Erskine Nobbs: Architect, Artist, Craftsman [Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1982], 43.]
The architect-designed interior decoration and furnishings are essential to the Arts and Crafts aesthetic. In the interior, Nobbs was responsible for the design of the plaster ornaments, the wood paneling, the mantelpieces the furniture, the staircase, and the stained glass. The rooms reveal the most complete extant work of Nobbs and are some of the most beautiful examples of the Arts and Crafts sensibility in Quebec. Like the exterior, the interior is animated by a classicism and a formality. A winding staircase in a typically Georgian style dominates the entrance hall and leads to the first floor where we find the most important and richly decorated rooms of the club: the large drawing room and the billiard room. They open into one another, separated by four arches supported by wood paneled columns. In these rooms, Nobbs gives free rein to his passion for heraldry in the stained glass windows, the ceiling medallions, and the arms of the great universities of Canada and the world. A carved and turned wood Arts and Crafts interpretation of a Chippendale-style corner chair in the billiard room was subsequently presented to the Canadian Architecture Collection in 1986. The imposing interior has been meticulously conceived to reflect the spare elegance of the building’s exterior. The reading room and the library which complete the first floor are decorated more simply to convey their smaller and more intimate character. More than 90 years later the University Club is still intact and continues to fulfill its role as a centre for university life. In 1986 the club was designated as a historical landmark. (Susan Wagg, “Arts et Métiers: Le Club Universitaire de Montréal” [trans. Sylvie Clamageran]. Continuité 30 [hiver 1986]: 40-42.

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