Thursday, August 26, 2010

E. P. Connors House - Classic Prairie Style in the heart of Westboro

If you read this blog regularly, you'll know that I love to find examples of architectural styles in the Westboro neighbourhood of Ottawa, particularly Modern and Prairie style architecture.

Once in a while I find a real gem in the 'hood that deserves its own post. In this case, it's E. P. Connors house at 166 Huron Ave.

This house, designed in 1915 by Francis Conroy Sullivan, is a classic example of the modernist Prairie school of architecture in Canada. Sullivan was strongly influenced by the Prairie school and worked for several years with Frank Lloyd Wright, the best known architect of the prairie school movement.

Sullivan, who once worked for the federal Department of Public Works, was a prominent architect in Ottawa from about 1907 to 1917. In addition to frequently designing schools for the Ottawa Catholic School Board, he designed several buildings of national historical significance, including the Banff National Park Pavillion and the the Horticulture building at Landsdown Park in Ottawa.

Although strongly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, Sullivan's style was different in several important ways: For example, whereas horizontals predominate in Wright's creations, Sullivan used strong verticals to create tension in his designs.

It's interesting to see how architects working in Ottawa today are influenced by Sullivan's and Wright's work. Barry Hobin, for example, at least to my eye, seems to be a disciple of the prairie school and often seems to incorporate strong vertical elements reminiscent of Sullivan's work into his designs. Just take a look at some of Hobin's designs in the pictures below.

(If your interested, you can see more pictures of the interior of these homes at the Modern Ottawa blog and on Helen McCallum's website.)

Barry Hobin also designed the houses at the the old Olgivie estate in Westboro, which were built by Uniform Urban Developments. Again, notice the influence of the Prairie school.

Is Ottawa seeing a resurgance of the Prairie school movement. I think so. Arts & Crafts is still very popular, but there is no doubt that there is a shift happening.

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