Art Deco in Old Montreal

October 3, 2016 / Posted by   Heritage Montreal - Collaborator  Oliver Marshall 

The City Embraces Modern Times

We are lucky to be able to witness many exceptional feats of Art Deco architecture here in Montréal. Though the style lacks notoriety, the movement behind it has been important throughout the history of architecture as it was a precursor to modern architecture which casts aside the influences of the past. Art Deco is recognizable by its verticality accentuated by its setbacks and continuous lines among many other key features. It is also characterized by its many geometric shapes and floral patterns sculpted in bas-relief. It is a truly enthralling style, and we are proud to present some of the greatest realizations of Art Deco that Old Montreal has to offer !

 

The Sculpted Treasures of the Former McDougall & Cowans Brokerage Firm

The former McDougall & Cowans brokerage firm is a seven-storey narrow tower with an architectural style that will truly take you off guard! It was diligently designed between 1929 and 1930 by architect James Cecil McDougall and is located right beside the Place d’Armes metro station. The exterior boasts three magnificent bas-reliefs built by Henri Hébert, a Montréal-born sculptor and the son of renowned sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert. These decorative details emblematically honour the company’s values: Prosperity, Hard Work and Finance.

firme de courtage McDougall & Cowans_02

1931

firme de courtage McDougall & Cowans

2008

The Montreal Star II Building’s Grand Ambitions

As the offices of the Montreal Star, one of Canada’s most influential English newspapers at the time, started to crowd, the paper decided that it would need a new building. It then commissioned the Ross & MacDonald architecture firm, one of the country’s greatest, for the task. The construction of the Montreal Star II building was completed in two stages. Firstly, between 1926 and 1928, the company built a two-level basement and a single-storey structure in order to house the newspaper printing presses. Then, in 1929, they began the construction of the towering thirteen-storey skyscraper built with consecutive setbacks. This truly spectacular building features many elements of the Art Deco style. The mullions and transoms which surround the ground floor’s windows and the metal spandrels between both of the window panes feature plantlike patterns which bloom at different areas on the façade.

Montreal_Star_II_02

1930

Montreal_Star_II_01

2014

The Aldred Building’s Impressive Interior Decor

The Aldred Building’s 23 storeys make it the tallest and most important of all the structures in this article! It was built between 1929 and 1931 by the architecture firm Barott & Blackadder. It is quite a distinguishable building as it resembles a pyramidal stone wedding cake. Its exterior walls boast designs which are classic to the Art Deco style such as plant- and animal-like abstract shapes and geometric shapes. The patterns were sculpted with great care with prestigious materials such as marble, travertine and bronze; the result of this amalgamation is stunning and colourful. The building’s exterior is truly breathtaking, and the interior is well worth the slight detour.

Aldred_01

1931

Aldred_02

2014

 

The Art Deco style truly modernized architecture, and all three of the buildings described in this article are emblematic of this movement in Montréal be it by the simplicity of their shape and their decorations.

©Pictures : www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca

Heritage Montreal - Collaborator

Heritage Montreal has worked to promote and to protect the architectural, historic, natural and cultural heritage of Greater Montreal, its neighbourhoods and communities. This private non-profit organization is at the heart of an extensive network of partners, working through education and representation to celebrate, develop and preserve Montreal’s identity and uniqueness.

Oliver Marshall

Big hair, do care! As our translator, Oliver makes sure that our blog authors’ message resonates to Montreal’s English community and to tourists who contribute to the success and vibrancy of Old Montreal. Even at the age of 21, he has proven to be our language aficionado as he puts great care in being meticulous and reliable in his work. Born and raised in Mile End, he is a true Montrealer who is driven by a fierce sense of pride in his city. During his free time, he loves to cook and play bass in his band: Brain Flower. Contact | oliver.h.s.marshall@gmail.com

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