Drummond mansion dazzles

April 1, 2012

Once uninhabitable, this red sandstone home from 1891 has been restored to its former grandeur
By ROBERT J. GALBRAITH, Freelance March 31, 2012

Architecture, modern and past, is a visible record of who we are and where we have come from, and perhaps, more importantly, where we are headed. Strip-mall ethics in construction and characterless design are the thumbprint of an unconcerned and selfish people. Like a great forest, that forest is only as productive as it is diverse. To rid the forest of its old growth ambience, or replace it with monotony, is about as much fun as walking through a Christmas tree plantation, where row after row, you always know what’s around the next corner.

It is only with sober and balanced judgment that our municipal leaders should, with great vision and responsibility, strive for a continuation of this diversity while looking towards the future, and doing everything in their power to preserve these footprints from our past. When this accountability falls through the cracks, these footprints are lost to the drunkenness of bad judgment, tinged by greed.

But sometimes greater men and women rise to the occasion to step forward and preserve what obviously must be preserved.

This was the case of the restored Victorian mansion at 3418 Drummond St., in the heart of one of Montreal’s architectural time capsules, The Golden Square Mile.

Built of Scottish red sandstone in 1891, the historic three-storey residence, which had become uninhabitable by 1990, was purchased and its exterior stabilized in 2001 by then owner Acadia Apartments Incorporated, located just south of the mansion at the corners of Sherbrooke and Drummond Sts. Then it was purchased in 2006 by present owners Ian and Maria Turner who, over the next year-and-a-half, fully restored its interior to its present opulent grandeur.

From 1913-1957, the residence was the family home of Huntley Redpath Drummond, a grandson of Montreal sugar baron John Redpath. Drummond’s father, Sir George A. Drummond had married into the Redpath family, making the names Drummond and Redpath two of the most prominent "blue-blooded" Montreal family names from the city’s most prosperous era, in the mid-to-late 1800s. It is estimated that the residents of the Golden Square Mile at one time controlled close to 70 per cent of Canada’s wealth.

"My grandmother was a first cousin of the Drummond family, so part of my family history is tied up here," explained Ian Turner.

The home features five bedrooms, 3½ bathrooms and much of the original English oak woodwork.

The exterior shell of Scottish red sandstone is classic Montreal elegance and has been a witness to a changing city, when horsedrawn wagons and buggies ruled the roads and onward to the present condo revolution.

A large entrance portico guides you inside the 121-year-old home through two sets of doorways. The inner set is made of the finest, full-sized, lead-glass windows. These open to the grand foyer and its lofty ceilings.

The crème-coloured marble floor and an accompanying mosaic motif enhance the dark hardwood lines of an overhead archway, leading towards the inner sanctum of the homes’ first floor. An intricately handcarved and custom carpeted English oak staircase leads upstairs to the second-and third-storey levels.

"We had to scrape off decades of old blackened lacquer from the English oak staircase that had built up over the years," explained Mari Turner. "It appears that the Victorian-era household lived in a very subdued darkened environment. They would lacquer over the woodwork rather than bring out its brilliance."

The large, prestigious dining room/hall, exposes stunning, high-coffered ceilings, gas fireplace, radiant heated marble floor (which cover most of the first level floors) and fine hardwood archways that lead to the front living room, with its hardwood floor and fireplace mantle, coffered ceiling and bay windows. This leads into the solarium/ family room.

This isn’t your average solarium that sees use only in the warmer months; it is vast, bright and was regally conceived for four-season pleasure. From here, a doorway leads outside to a large deck and garden.

Still on the first floor, the custom-made, Andre Julien traditional gourmet kitchen is of the highest quality. It is outfitted with cutting-edge appliances that feature a DCS gas range and grill, a Miele oven, and large Thermador fridge/freezer.

The magnificent oak staircase in the foyer leads to the second floor, with its original stained glass skylight, open boudoir/den and a huge and extensive office which includes copious amounts of natural light spilling through the curved windows of the turrets. The master bedroom suite includes a walk-in-closet, dressing area, office and gas fireplace. Its private and spacious ensuite includes a double vanity, bidet, heated marble floors and a separate steam shower and bath.

Third level opens to the large, contemporary home theatre den and two charming bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. The laundry room can also be found on this floor. The flooring is made of Brazilian jatoba hardwood, a type of cherry wood.

"This property is all about location and amenities. I think the best selling point is that it is located in the Square Mile, just above Sherbrooke and so close to extraordinary shopping destinations, while offering a completely renovated, upgraded property with gracious entertaining and office space and a two-car garage in the heart of the city. This is a rarity," explained Liza Kaufman, the broker with Sotheby’s International Real Estate, Quebec.

"We are going to see a wide variety of clientele interested in this unique residence, such as foreign buyers interested in downtown property, or empty nesters and families that want to move downtown with college-aged children going to university. But also professionals who want to live in the heart of the city with a large amount of office space available in their home."

This home is a living, breathing part of Montreal’s illustrious past – from its slate roof, copper flashing and Scottish stone front, to its hand-crafted plaster mouldings and English oak archways. It is something to behold; and a reminder of how important it is that we all take concern when heritage landmarks are threatened or left to rot. At the same time, we have to acknowledge those heroes of architectural preservation, such as the Turners and the Acadia Apartments, who saved the incredible Huntley Redpath Drummond mansion from becoming just another memory of beautiful things lost.

Asking price: $3,480,000

MLS#: 8705016

Municipal and school taxes: $9,750 year.

For more information contact Sotheby’s International Real Estate, Quebec, broker Liza Kaufman at (514)-232-5932 or lizakaufman.com

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