Grace­ful tri­umph for ’30s el­e­gance

Art Deco build­ings stand out in crowd

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos -

There are nu­mer­ous land­marks that grace the sky­line of Mon­treal. The ma­jes­tic Trafal­gar on Cote des Neiges is a well-known ar­chi­tec­tural mas­ter­piece that has en­dured on the west slopes of the moun­tain for eight decades.

Seen from a dis­tance, both the Trafal­gar and the neigh­bour­ing Gle­nea­gles build­ing con­jure the im­age of a ship at sea, tow­er­ing above the city with their tur­rets and spires at full sail, adrift on an ocean of moun­tain fo­liage and big sky.

Com­mon sense and peo­ple power won out over profit in 2002, when her­itage sta­tus was granted to the Trafal­gar-Gle­nea­gles build­ings, there­fore pro­tect­ing them from im­pos­ing devel­op­ment projects — but obli­gat­ing the build­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives to stay within her­itage guide­lines for any re­pair or ren­o­va­tion on the ex­te­rior of the build­ings.

Since then, the Trafal­gar has un­der­gone an $8 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion of its ex­te­rior, bring­ing the 59-unit con­do­minium back to its for­mer 1931 el­e­gance.

Louis and his wife Su­san, (who pre­fer not to use their last names) bought and moved into unit B46 of the Trafal­gar in 2002.

“When we moved here we had to change a few things to fit our needs. We wanted to open it up a lit­tle but keep the beauty of the ar­chi­tec­ture. This meant we had to keep the arched walls and door­ways, to pre­serve the orig­i­nal am­bi­ence of the condo,” ex­plained Louis.

“It is be­cause of this am­bi­ence that we moved here in the first place.”

Walk­ing into the ex­quis­ite one floor, two-bed­room, 1,864-square-foot apart­ment is like step­ping into a pair of comfy slip­pers on a chilly win­ter morn­ing.

While many mod­ern condo units tend to be box-shaped and open, this unit leaves you with the feel­ing you are en­veloped in the sanc­tu­ary of a house, thanks to five arched door­ways, hard­wood floors, sound­proof walls and ceil­ings, and warm nat­u­ral light that spills into each room.

The views from the Trafal­gar are spec­tac­u­lar, given its mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures and im­pos­ing lo­ca­tion.

You can clearly see a great sec­tion of the St. Lawrence River and the lands south, east and west of it, where the Mon­teregie flows into a back­drop of the Adiron­dack and Green Moun­tains.

“It has one of the high­est and one of the most panoramic views of the city of­fered by any prop­erty on the is­land,” boasts the owner.

The metic­u­lously ren­o­vated unit re­flects the era of its con­struc­tion in 1929-31, when the Great De­pres­sion and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing stock mar­ket crash put the world in a tail­spin; but not at the Trafal­gar.

It was the lead­ing edge of high so­ci­ety liv­ing in the era of Art Deco, con­tin­u­ing this pedi­gree well into the 1960s.

“We added the orig­i­nal Art Deco in­stal­la­tions such as the door han­dles, which we re­cov­ered from old doors we found in the base­ment,” says Louis.

“They had been re­moved by some own­ers when they ren­o­vated. I also dis­cov­ered what may be the orig­i­nal pe­riod chan­de­lier which is now hang­ing in the din­ing room.

“We found it in an old box in our locker and had it cleaned and re­stored.” The cou­ple of­ten travel to Paris, the birthplace of the Art Deco move­ment. “The sconces were pur­chased from an Art Deco restora­tion spe­cialty shop in Paris,” says Louis (visit www. restaur-bronze.com). Each room is large and bright and holds onto that feel of be­ing in a house. The owner’s choice of fur­ni­ture and art­work fuse to­gether with the units’ ar­chi­tec­tural char­ac­ter, re­sult­ing in a de­li­cious blend where mod­ern greets the past.

There is more than am­ple space here for a cou­ple or small fam­ily, in­clud­ing a pet.

Even the Naked Chef would be happy here with the condo’s huge, eat-in-kitchen, painted in bright yel­low and lit by sun­light, halo­gen stu­dio lights and stun­ning pear-shaped hang­ing lights.

One of the two ren­o­vated bath­rooms has pas­tel-toned turquoise ce­ramic tiles cov­er­ing the walls.

Glass pan­els and a glass door en­ve­lope the bath and shower area and com­ple­ment the tones. The other has white tiles.

There is con­ve­nient ac­cess to rooftop ter­races where re­lax­ing out­side and scan­ning over the moun­tain or to­wards the river, one might be­lieve he or she is king or queen of the cas­tle.

In­te­rior park­ing is ser­viced by a round-the-clock valet and the lo­ca­tion is fab­u­lous for those need­ing quick ac­cess to down­town.

The 59 condo units range in size from 600 square feet to a 4,000-square-foot, multi-level unit. The B46 unit is listed at $849,000. “Most of the own­ers like the fact that it’s a her­itage build­ing,” ex­plain the own­ers. “It comes with some more obli­ga­tions in terms of on­go­ing main­te­nance, but you can be guar­an­teed you won’t have to worry about some mon­ster project pop­ping up in your back­yard or the build­ing walls col­laps­ing.

“Some of our own­ers live out of the coun­try but own a condo here as a home base when they are in town con­duct­ing busi­ness, as they want the se­cu­rity of hav­ing a res­i­dence in Mon­treal that feels like a real home and not a ho­tel,” says Louis.

Joseph Mon­ta­naro, the unit’s sales agent with Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty Que­bec, says the unit re­minds him of both Paris and New York.

“It is def­i­nitely a condo you would see high­lighted in any main New York or Paris mag­a­zine.”

He says the units were built as com­fort­able res­i­dences, “for prom­i­nent own­ers and their fam­i­lies. They just don’t build them like this any­more; it’s like a fortress.”

Su­san and Louis love the condo they live in, but ear­lier this year they vis­ited a condo (unit B57 at 3,600 square feet) lo­cated one floor above that had just been listed for sale.

“We just vis­ited out of cu­rios­ity. We were not look­ing to pur­chase it, but it was love a f irst site; es­pe­cially for my wife who was es­pe­cially happy with the ex­tra space and the views are even more spec­tac­u­lar. So we bought it.”

A south-fac­ing ter­race in the build­ing has a spec­tac­u­lar view of Mon­treal.

A view of the liv­ing room in the unit, which is priced at $849,000.

Art deco lamps high­light the en­trance­way to the liv­ing room. Be­low, the ex­te­rior of the Trafal­gar. Far left, a re­stored Art Deco lamp and door han­dle from the 1930s.

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