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Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine House

1395 Overdale Avenue

Constructed in the 1830s, the La Fontaine House is one of Montreal’s rare surviving mansions of that era. It was home to one of Canada’s most important 19th-century politicians, Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, who was the first Prime Minister of the United Canadas as well as a key player in the creation of democratic institutions and responsible government in the country. In April 1849, the house was attacked by the rioters who had burned down the Parliament Building on the site of present-day Place d’Youville.

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Published on : October 06 2015

Last modified on : May 03 2016

Despite some modifications—such as the addition of the top storey with its mansard roof and the elimination of a grand entrance staircase—the house remains a rare example of the Neo-Classical greystone mansions built in the St. Antoine Ward. Its setback from the surrounding streets is a reminder of its original setting on landscaped grounds. After La Fontaine’s death, the building had several different owners and remained a private residence, though it was subdivided into varying quantities of dwellings over the years. In 1987, a redevelopment project was announced and tenants were evicted, and it was at this time that the building’s illustrious history was discovered. The following year, at the request of Heritage Montreal, City Council provided citation status to the house.

 

Heritage Montreal intervened to save the mansion from demolition that same year. Its interior was subsequently refinished, but the building has sat empty and abandoned for more than 15 years. It is one of the last remaining vestiges of the former St. Antoine neighbourhood, today crisscrossed by traffic arteries. In 2011, the block on which the house stands was acquired by a group of investors who recognized its heritage interest and intended to include it in a surrounding residential redevelopment. Today the La Fontaine House is still unoccupied, but a zoning change has been made to allow for a museum or other commemorative usage, and the promoters have begun restoring the roof and some of the architectural elements to closely replicate their original condition. The house’s eventual occupancy and purpose, however, remain uncertain.

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Maison La Fontaine

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  • Municipality or borough

    Ville-Marie

  • Issues

    Mechanisms for protection

    Urban Development

  • Owner(s)

    Private; company

  • Threat(s)

    Vacant

    Lack of knowledge

  • Conception

    John Ostel, Architect (hypothetical)

  • Manager(s)

    Condominiums YUL

  • Categorie(s)

    Residential

  • Construction year

    1844-1846

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