City partially demolishes Magee house after wall collapse

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After a partial collapse at the Magee house on Tuesday, the city knocked off some of its roof and a wall corner to keep the building safe as engineers survey the damage.

“After workers remove those portions that pose a public safety risk, the city will have experts conduct a further analysis on the remainder of the building,” a Friday press release from the city says.

The Hintonburg heritage building, which traces its origins to 1874, lost part of its west facade in a collapse. The cause is as of yet unknown.

Wellington Street West was closed from Parkdale to Bayswater Avenues because of the collapse. On Saturday morning Coun. Jeff Leiper tweeted the road will likely remain closed until Monday. The north sidewalk is closed, but it’s otherwise business as usual in Hintonburg.

Here’s a little about the Magee House from Kitchissippi historian Dave Allston:

Frances Magee laid out a small subdivision (Stirling Avenue) in 1873, and almost immediately sold the southern block of the west side of Stirling (from Armstrong to Wellington) to Ottawa butcher Richard Woodland for $1,100. Richard was just 24 years old at the time, a newlywed and a new father.

Evidence shows that the Magee House was partially built as early as April 1874. By 1875, Richard Woodland was listed as residing in the home with his family of four (as well as two cows, two hogs and one horse). Land registry records indicate he took out a second mortgage on the property in early 1875, likely to cover construction costs.

The debts overcame him and in early 1878, he defaulted on his mortgage, triggering a clause in which Frances Magee could sell the property at auction. In a bit of old-time real estate hijinks, the auction winner was her son-in-law James Clarke, who had also acted as Frances’ real estate agent over the years. Nine months after the auction he flipped the property back to her for the price he had paid.

It was given heritage designation due to its age, its rarity as a stone building, the connection to Frances Magee, and its architecture. The file notes: “The Second Empire detailing, in particular, the mansard roof with its dormers and emphatic cornice, is unique in the neighbourhood and serves to add the landmark status of the structure.” The interior and additions at the rear are excluded from the designation.

The house was granted heritage designation in 1996.

 


OttawaStart Staff

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