Westmount manor has colourful, rich past
Rivierview Manor, a 16,000-sq-ft. property actually encompasses three addresses on the slopes of Westmount Mountain, is an architectural beacon.
In 1982, a fictional children’s book titled The Haunted Dollhouse was written and set in a historic Westmount manor called Riverview, on the slopes of Westmount Mountain. It was a scary story about a young girl who awakens in a haunted Victorian dollhouse.
But rather than being haunted by an evil spirit, this architectural beacon might be said to be blessed and watched over by the jovial ghosts of a flamboyant and storied past.
Riverview, built in 1847, is an architectural survivor of the highest grade and anyone who has had the opportunity to visit the home would agree. Walking through this masterpiece of a house is like walking through the pages of a history book, from its colourful, rich past to its contemporary and inspiring present. Now, this historic home is about to turn another page in its esteemed and long history.
Located at 515 Côte St. Antoine Rd., this wood, brick and slate piece of history is being listed for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec, for $3.275 million.
The 16,000-sq-ft. property actually encompasses three addresses. The main Victorian-style structure is at 515 Côte St. Antoine; the attached townhouse/condo at 513 is in the back of the main structure; and the completely separate — though neighbouring — small, red-brick cottage called the Well House is at the address of 555 Victoria Ave.
The main property has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two half-bathrooms. The townhouse/condo has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a half-bathroom (or powder room). The pint-sized Well House, which is more of a small cottage, has a bathroom upstairs and downstairs and one bedroom.
Riverview (which was originally named Maison Justine-Solomée) looks like an elaborate, late-Victorian home, but this was the result of later renovations and additions. The original house was built by Ephrem Hudon, a Montreal merchant and his wife Justine-Solomée Hurtubise.
It was constructed as a basic, one-and-a-half-storey functional structure.
The Hurtubise family was one of the first landowners in this region of Montreal and had farmed the land along the hill since 1699. The original Hurtubise stone farmhouse (built in 1739) still stands, just across Victoria Avenue from Riverview. This structure is a treasure in itself and is the oldest standing building in Westmount.
Riverview was purchased from the Hudons in 1876 by Montreal banker William Simpson, who, in 1879, made some major changes to the structure — including building its broad, wooden, gingerbread-style veranda and a second-floor. He also added a third-floor attic, a sloping polychrome slate-tiled mansard roof and the central tower, with its wrought-iron fence or balustrade, made up of sunflower weather vanes. Simpson had transformed the home into an absolutely stunning example of Second Empire style or design.
The residence changed hands over the next number of decades, then underwent another major transformation starting in 1985, when Philip and Pauline Ronchetti bought the property and undertook an extensive restoration and preservation project.
The couple restored the polychrome slate roof to its original splendid form after the tiles had been buried under layers of grey paint for decades. They opened up some walls and closed others, repaired the flooring, cornices and ceilings and changed secondary stairwells.
They also upgraded the elaborately decorated iron radiators in the hallway and the back dining room, then topped them with a marble slab, to cover the grillwork. They stripped the living room fireplace down to the bricks and restored it with a marble and wood covering.
The Ronchettis sold the house to its present owners, Sigrid Wodtke and Robert Kruger in 1990. This couple have continued on as architectural sentinels and heritage preservationists, continuing to maintain and keep up the ambience and character of the home.
“Just after I met Robert in 1987, he showed me his favourite home in the entire city – Riverview,” Wodtke said. “Then it came up for sale and we decided to buy it in 1990. At this time it was just the main home and attached townhouse that was for sale. We bought the Well House (which was privately owned) in 2000.”
The interior of the main home and its townhouse is a pleasure to see, from its entranceway with the original pine staircase and its diagonal newel post, to the original casement windows with brass hardware. Another original feature is the 12-inch sculpted baseboards.
The living room is very large, with its light pinewood flooring and bright open spaces, tastefully decorated with colourful rugs and furniture. It is a wonderful mélange of modern, anchored by the maturity of the past.
There are a number of rooms, such as the den and library, where one can escape and feel as though they are in absolute solitude, without feeling lost in an open, faceless fortress.
The first-floor kitchen is smallish but very comfortable with its modern appliances and large, bright windows.
The master bedroom and ensuite are modern and clean and would fulfill the requirements of any owner.
The attic is a manly getaway, with its overall terra cotta tones, reflected from the overhead wood beams and pine flooring.
The attached townhouse has its own pleasures of homeyness and comfort, with its cathedral ceilings and separate side entranceway and parking area.
Then there is the Well House, which is like something out of fairy tale, with its quaint little dollhouse appeal, though more than ample as a guest residence. The second storey is only reachable from a pull-down, folding stairway that drops down from the ceiling.
The sum of these three properties is unlike anything else on the real estate market, and that’s without mentioning its extensively well-maintained garden area for the landscape or flower lover. It is difficult to believe you are just a five-minute drive from downtown, as you are surrounded by green and quiet on the breeze-filled slopes of la petite montagne.
On Jan 12, a major portion of Westmount was officially recognized by Parks Canada as a national historic site, due to its unique architectural diversity that played a special role in the building of Canada.
“They recognized us because of the integrity of the architecture found here, particularly from the Victorian and post-Victorian period,” explained Doreen Lindsay, president of the Westmount Historical Association, who, along with a small team of association members and other enthusiasts, have done much over the years to educate both residents and government officials.
“When you’re looking at that house (Riverview), you’re looking at history. It’s right in front of you – it’s in the present. That’s what you get when you buy Riverview, you are buying history,” she said.
School and municipal taxes $20,850
For more information contact Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec broker Liza Kaufman at www.lizakaufman.com or 514-232-5932
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