Fortunately, things changed for the better after 1995: restoration work began on the houses, located at 143 and 145 Séraphin Marion Street, and built in 1877 and 1884 respectively.
The first building is the Susan Mann House, named after the first woman to become vice-rector, academic and research in 1984. It houses the Institute of Women’s Studies and the Michaëlle Jean Foundation. Home to the Department of History, the second house is named in honour of Pierre Savard, former professor in the Department of History and director of the Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture (Centre de recherche en civilisation canadienne-française) from 1973 to 1985.
After extensive work carried out by C and L Construction Ottawa, based on plans provided by architectural firm Murray and Murray, the two houses were returned to their former glory for us to admire today. The wooden ornamentation was completely rebuilt according to the original plans. The original façades of the houses were recreated thanks to photographic research at the Archives of the University.
It is worth noting that, contrary to expectations, the photos of the original houses were not found in the building section of the Archives, but rather in the sports section. At the time the photos were taken, young people would play ball in the yard in front of Tabaret, right across from the houses. Every architectural detail of the two buildings can be discerned through careful inspection of the photos. Thanks to this precious resource, it was possible to faithfully reproduce the porches, balconies and delicate wooden ornamentation. This story is a good example of why the Archives are useful for more than just exploring the past.
The work was carried out in part through the generous donation of Ottawa architectural firm Murray and Murray and Associates Inc. as part of the Vision Campaign, as well as the City of Ottawa’s Design and Heritage divisions. In short, this partnership has allowed the University of Ottawa to showcase its rich built heritage and to restore the beauty of its historical sector, which brings charm to our Sandy Hill campus. Also, in 1997, the City of Ottawa recognized the exceptional quality of the work by presenting the University of Ottawa with a certificate of merit in the category of restoration.
If you would like to explore the rich architecture of the historical sector of the University, gather a group of at least five people and contact me at michel.prevost@uOttawa.ca or at 613-562-5825.