Neighbourhood

The Wenonah

The Wenonah: A time capsule from the past.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting the historic Wenonah building in Mount Pleasant, there’s a good chance you’ve met the building manager, Robert McNutt. And if you’ve met Robert, you know he has about as much character as the Wenonah itself.

Ask Robert and he’ll tell you he and the building are the same thing. He is the Wenonah, and the Wenonah is him. And, when you consider the two’s long history together, it makes a whole lot of sense. You see, Robert wasn’t just hired to be the building manager. He started as a tenant in the Wenonah back in the 90s. Then, Robert was in his mid-twenties and looking to move into his first apartment. That’s when he came across an opening at this historic property and moved in. And he’s been there ever since.

The landlady at the time gave Robert free reign and told him to make the place his own, so he did. But instead of hanging up a few pictures and adding a tasteful rug as most people would, he removed any trace of modern living like the dishwasher, stove, and fridge. Instead, he replaced the appliances with antiques from the turn of the century. And while his apartment might look more like a museum than an ordinary home, Robert insists that each item in his collection should be lived with and used—not just admired. That includes a juicer from 1917 that Robert regularly uses, a working wall telephone, and an antique bathtub that cost him a pretty penny ($12,000 to be exact).

But Robert wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, walking into his apartment can feel like you’ve climbed into a time machine and travelled back to the 1900s, but in a way, Robert’s apartment is a living tribute to the era when the property was built. It’s a little piece of history that has been meticulously cared for and preserved in this ever-changing modern world.

Take a peek into any of the other renovated apartments in the building and find bright, contemporary spaces with all the modern appliances you would expect. But despite their modern makeovers, there are still plenty of charming touches that speak to the building’s heritage—like the meticulously hand-crafted stained-glass windows that Robert designs himself.

That’s right. Along with managing the building, Robert is also the man behind all the intricate stained-glass art that adorns the Wenonah. Each window telling a different story. He also recently spent a painstaking 200 plus hours painting a stairwell by brush because he believes the quality is simply better. And you can’t rush quality.

Robert just cares for the building as much as he cares for himself. So, it is really not a surprise that he has come to think of the two of them as one entity. And why shouldn’t he care this much? The Wenonah is Robert’s home. And, as he says it best, “It will be home for the rest of my life.”