Think heritage condos and Ottawa’s distinguished Mayfair Apartments on Metcalfe Street is what likely comes to mind. In the same vein (and in a rare move), in 2009 the city approved the conversion of the prestigious Ambassador Court building at 612 Bank Street from rental apartments to condominium units.
Local architectural buffs will already know this Ottawa landmark as the work of W.E. Noffke, one of Ottawa’s most profilific architects in the first half of the 20th century. A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Noffke is best known for his work along the Sparks Street Mall including the Central Post Office at the corner of Elgin St. His career success led to handsome commissions building historically significant homes for Ottawa’s elite, and he is equally known for his gracious residential designs which remain hallmarks in The Glebe to this day.
Built in 1928, Ambassador Court was designed to overlook Central Park to the west of Bank St, back when The Glebe was a “streetcar suburb”. Noffke was clearly enamoured of this enclave, designing a number of noteworthy homes that surround Central Park, including his own, and influencing the development of this beautifully landscaped oasis which has now been proposed as a heritage conservation district. Writers, artists and professors have all called Ambassador Court home over the years, easily drawn by both the choice location as well as the choice views.
A total of 31 units are housed in this 4-storey building, complete with an ornate, two level entryway, central marble staircase, stone embellishments, elegant balconies, 9ft ceilings, original hardwood floors and original crafted faux fireplaces. Heritage fans will pleased to note that most of the building has been left intact with just a bit of “refreshment” here and there, most notably in the kitchens and bathrooms, along with an update of all wiring, plumbing and new windows.
The drawbacks? Limited underground parking, which is reserved for the larger units, and shared laundry facilities, a frequent objection of those considering older condominiums (which isn’t to say that some owners haven’t installed their own washer/dryer when no one is looking). Nevertheless with the recent rejuvenation of Bank Street out of the way, Ambassador Court is that rare urban haven for those who appreciate the heritage and history of Ottawa’s most distinguished burgh.