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Priority site

Institute for Deaf-Mute Girls

3725, Saint-Denis Street

1616

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History of the site

Published on : October 01 2020

Last modified on : March 28 2023

This Institute was initially located in a boarding school in Longue-Pointe, then moved to Hospice Saint-Joseph in Montreal, before relocating permanently to Saint-Denis Street in 1864. A stone house was erected that year on the vast plot of land that had been bequeathed by lawyer Côme-Séraphin Cherrier and his wife to the Sisters of Providence. In 1900, this structure was replaced by the large building that stands there today.

The Institute was devoted to teaching deaf and mute girls. In 1911, it received its first deaf, blind and mute student and the community later expanded its mission to also teaching the blind, until it shut down in 1975.

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Cour intérieure donnant sur le stationnement Cherrier

Source: Damien Ligiardi Photographe, 2021

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Vue d’ensemble de la façade principale, rue Saint-Denis vers Cherrier

Source: Damien Ligiardi Photographe, 2021

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Vue d’ensemble de la façade principale, rue Saint-Denis vers Roy

Source: Damien Ligiardi Photographe, 2021

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Façade principale, rue Saint-Denis

Source: Damien Ligiardi Photographe, 2021

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Specific characteristics

A building of exceptional heritage value, the Institut des Sourdes-Muettes is a good example of architecture that developed over several eras. Despite the construction of the body of the building in seven phases, over a period of 73 years, the incorporation of all of its constituent parts into an overall “H”-plan, the continuity of the volumes and the choice of materials produced a remarkably harmonious building. The buildings, for the most part, made of roughly carved Montreal greystone with dressed stone for the ornamentation.

Designed by Father Joseph Michaud des Clercs de Saint-Viateur, the building is an example of Second Empire architecture, with its mansard roof and corner pavilions, a popular style in Montreal in the 1870s. He grafted onto the centre of the building the avant-corps of the entrance, decorated with pilasters to give the composition a monumental scale. The dome adorning the roof is reminiscent of the domes on Marché Bonsecours and Hôtel-Dieu. The fenestration decreases in height from floor to floor, a common approach at the time. The building still boasts stunning wooden verandas, evocative of its convent origins.

A chapel sits at the centre of the building. It houses a work by painter Georges Delfosse that represents the miraculous translation of the image of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil, the patron of the chapel. The interior of the Institut des Sourdes-Muettes, with its rich wood panelling, was relatively well conserved until the site was abandoned. The Berri Street entrance features a magnificent golden oak stairway with a ramp and balustrade in red oak.

Threats

Sold to the Corporation d’hébergement du Québec in 1979, the building was home to the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal until its dissolution in 2015. This period saw the construction of parking lots on the site, and the Berri Street entrances were modified, leading to the disappearance of the park on Saint-Denis Street. The Société d’histoire du Plateau-Mont-Royal (SHP) made an official application for classification in 2015 and then again in 2017, but it was refused. Despite many interventions by citizens, elected officials and experts to protect and reclassify the building, it remains vacant to this day.

Current events

In 2019, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Société québécoise des infrastructures proposed that the City buy the building. The City of Montreal has expressed interest in developing scenarios for repurposing the Institut des Sourdes-Muettes and the Hôpital des Sœurs de la Miséricorde, before making a decision to purchase the buildings, which have remained largely unoccupied.

In June 2021, the City of Montreal presented its redevelopment vision for the Sourdes-Muettes site. The Quebec government owns the complex. It is expected that it will be transferred to a private developer who will carry out the restoration, redevelopment and requalification work.

Actions of Heritage Montréal

Over the years, Heritage Montreal has submitted several letters, briefs and resolutions concerning various surplus hospital buildings in Montreal, including the Institute for Deaf-Mute Girls

Héritage Montréal continues to follow the case closely and to advocate with public authorities for the site to be requalified and for the heritage values of the site to be respected.

  • Municipality or borough

    Plateau-Mont-Royal borough

  • Issues

    Mechanisms for protection

    Urban Development

  • Owner(s)

    Public: provincial government

  • Threat(s)

    Vacant

  • Conception

    Père Joseph Michaud of the Clercs de Saint-Viateur

  • Manager(s)

    Société immobilière du Québec

  • Categorie(s)

    Institutional

    Religious

  • Construction year

    Between 1870 and 1943

  • Recognition status

    Building of exceptional heritage value Located in an area of exceptional heritage value – Saint-Denis Street

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