Historic Sites of Manitoba: Tribune Building (257 Smith Street, Winnipeg)
The Winnipeg Tribune daily newspaper began operations in the old Imperial Bank on Bannatyne Avenue, after which it relocated to the former Grand Theatre (later known as the Tribune Block) on McDermot Avenue near Albert Street. In November 1912, the company announced the acquisition of this site for a cost of around $100,000 after selling their former location for $200,000. Designed by local architect John D. Atchison, excavation began in March 1913. With construction overseen by the firm of Hazleton & Walin Limited, some of the subcontractors included the Charles Gate & Sons Company Limited (plumbing, heating, & ventilation), Pilkington Brothers Limited (glass), Otis-Fensom Elevator Company (elevators), Coast Lumber Yards (lumber), Winnipeg Ceiling and Roofing Company Limited (sheer metal, fireproofing, doors, roofing), Vulcan Iron Works Company (boilers and steam radiators), Lake Winnipeg Shipping Company Limited (building materials), Braid & McCurdy (hardwall plaster, gypsum hollow noise-proofing tiles, fireproofing), Shipman Electrical Company (electrical supplies), John Gunn & Sons, Dominion Fire Proofing Company, and J. H. Ashdown Hardware Company. A new sextuple printing press was purchased from the firm of R. Hoe & Company. It had a the printing capacity of 32,000 papers (ranging between 2 to 28 pages each) per hour.
The building was originally envisioned to be 10 storeys tall but only six storeys were ultimately built. The structure had 75 feet of frontage along Smith Street and 120 feet along Graham Avenue. The primary entrance was via a cast iron revolving door off Smith Street, with the first floor featuring large windows through which a view of the interior work floor was afforded. Interior decorations included quarter-cut oak and hardwood flooring with upper floors featuring terrazzo floors and marble wainscoting. The exterior had marble paneling and fluted terra cotta columns. Fourteen gargoyles were mounted atop of the building’s reinforced concrete columns at the sixth-floor level, while the 14 heads (possibly made by Royal Doulton of England) were attached between the main and second floors. The subjects for the heads are not known definitively, but theories proposed they were well-known city notables or senior newspaper staff.
The Tribune took possession of the facility in November 1913 and initially rented out much of it as office space for other businesses. The presses began operating in January 1914. The building would later be expanded with the acquisition of adjacent property.
The terra cotta, gargoyles, and heads were removed in 1969 as a result of being deemed a falling hazard and danger to pedestrian traffic on the street. Workers needed crowbars and jackhammers to dislodge the securely affixed features, the terra cotta itself being some five inches thick and reinforced with steel zigzag wire. Purchased by staff and members of the public, the gargoyles became rare collectors’ pieces, with some later being reported stolen. Two of the 14 gargoyles are now among the holdings of the Manitoba Museum. The exterior surface was replaced in favour of pre-cast concrete. The newspaper adopted ”cold type” in 1976, at which time the old press was dismantled so it could be removed from the premises.
The Winnipeg Tribune folded on 27 August 1980 and demolition of the building commenced in October 1983. It was gone within a month, after which the site was turned into a surface parking lot.
“Tribune buys a big site for new home,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 November 1912, page 1.
“Mammoth deal in real estate,” Winnipeg Tribune, 25 November 1912, page 1.
“The Winnipeg Tribune’s new home on Smith and Graham Sts.” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 March 1913, page 1.
“Something about the Tribune,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 January 1914, page 25.
“The Winnipeg Tribune’s new building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 January 1914, pages 26-29.
“Aslip Brick and Tile Co. move,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 March 1914, page 3.
“Only two offices left in The Tribune Publishing Company’s Building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 May 1914, page 3.
“Tribune has worked for community growth,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 May 1949, page 41.
“The night the owl flew into the newsroom,” Val Werier, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 September 1983, page 9.
“Tribune building coming down,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 September 1983, page 5.
“Hit by wrecker’s ball,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 November 1983, page 9.
“The mystery of the Winnipeg Tribune gargoyles,” Metro News Winnipeg, 7 February 2013.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 24 July 2015
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