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London and Lancashire Life Assurance Company, Office Building(4/1898-4/1899)
244 Saint-Jacques Street, Montreal, QC, Canada
Commercial, Office building [basement, 6 floors, attic]; stone; composite 145 Drawings: 86 ink on linen; 7 ink on paper; 3 pencil on paper; 13 watercolour on linen; 1 watercolour on paper; 35 blueprints
Client: London and Lancashire Life Assurance Company
Description: By the late 1890s, Life Insurance Companies had become the leading financial institutions in Canada. This is evident even today because of the impressive structures built for these companies at the end of 19th century. Among the most important buildings of this type are the New York Life Building, the Standard Life and the Canada Life Building (both designed by American architects) on Saint-James Street. The London and Lancashire Life Assurance Company, established in Canada since 1863, purchased a corner site with a 40-foot wide frontage facing Saint-James (Saint-Jacques) Street and 80 feet long south facing Saint-John Street.
The directors of the company, Lord Strathcona, R.B. Angus, A.T. Patterson, and E.L. Pease, were all clients of Edward Maxwell who had designed both urban houses and country houses for them. Maxwell was asked by the directors to design a new office building for the company on the empty lot they had purchased. The result was a tall office building in the heart of the financial district of Montreal, which shows for the first time the active participation of William Maxwell in the design. William, who had been employed in Boston since 1895 as a draftsman, returned to work in his brotherís office in early 1898. From the number of drawings for the London and Lancashire Life Assurance Company building initialed by William, it appears that the younger brother was given considerable responsibility in the project. In contrast to Edwardís Romanesque and Italian Renaissance details, which he adopted in most of his earlier projects, this building reflects more details that William borrowed from Beaux-Arts sources. The watercolour presentation drawing of the building signed by William is a good example of this. Although executed prior to Williamís studies in Paris, the design anticipates some of the French influences on his work.
The seven-storey Beaux-Arts symmetrical building is divided into four sections separated by ornate wrought iron balconies at the third and fifth floor. A Mansard roof caps the uppermost storey. The sandstone with which the building is constructed was well suited to the lavish ornament of the French Renaissance style. The main entrance is accessed through a massive arched doorway, above which the same width is articulated to the dormer in the roof supporting a flagpole. The ground floor was planned to house an important tenant, the Bank of Nova Scotia. The London and Lancashire used the first and the sixth floor, while the remaining floors contained rental office spaces.
The interior finishes were of excellent quality. The banking room had brass and marble fittings. The entrance vestibule and stair hall were finished in buff, green and grey marbles. The London and Lancashire boardroom, which had tapestry-covered walls and oak trim, was lit by natural light filtered through a leaded-glass dome. In 1909 the Maxwells proposed an addition that would have added two storeys by dismantling and reassembling the Mansard roof. This proposal was abandoned, but, at a later date, new dormers were introduced as the boardroom was divided into small offices. On the whole, the building of the London and Lancashire emphasized ''distinction'' and ''cosmopolitanism'' with its tall roofs, and wrought-iron balconies then so popular in Paris, London, and New York City.
Holdings: Office building (basement, 6 floors, attic); stone; composite 145 Drawings: 86 ink on linen; 7 ink on paper; 3 pencil on paper; 13 watercolour on linen; 1 watercolour on paper; 35 blueprints
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