Storied building ready for next chapter
Published Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:42PM CST
Perhaps it's best known for its ghost stories, but soon the Masonic Temple in downtown Winnipeg will be home to the living, not the dead.
Dan Wolfrom of Wolfrom Engineering wants to breathe new life into the building that has been sitting vacant at 335 Donald Street for years.
And he ain't afraid of no ghost.
"We're actually encouraging the ghost stories," he told Rachel Lagac� as he gave CTV News a tour of the building. "I live for them."
The Masonic Temple was built in 1895. On its website, Heritage Winnipeg says the total cost to build it was $22,000. The Masons sold it in 1969 and it became home to Mother Tucker's restaurant until the 1990s, when it converted into a sports bar (Chris Walby's Hog City Bar & Grill) and then a nightclub (Blue Agave).
While home to Mother Tucker's restaurant, employees claimed to hear mysterious footsteps and voices, while cutlery and table settings would be inexplicably moved overnight.
Wolfrom has heard the stories, but says it's time to write the next chapter.
"It's really well detailed so it's just a beautiful building in my mind," he said. "[It's] a very solid building. As an engineer I look at it as something that's going to last a very long time."
Wolfrom's company has expanded so much he needs a new building to accommodate his staff. He still needs final approval for his plan from Winnipeg City Hall, but he's already gutted the building.
He plans to renovate the 16,000 square foot building into retail, office and residential space, at a cost of roughly $2.5 million.
The second floor will be used for his engineering firm, the main floor will be for retail and office space, and the third and fourth floors will be turned into half a dozen loft apartments.
Wolfrom plans to build a glass atrium on the north side of the building which will sit directly above the sidewalk on Ellice Avenue.
"It will completely open up the entire building on that side so that people outside the building will have a chance to see what's going on inside the building," he explained.
And he says if there are ghosts, he's willing to share.
"We welcome them. We're quite happy to cohabitate the space with them."
With a report from CTV's Rachel Lagac�.