Rocco Masons is excited and honored to be a part of the restoration on this iconic residence in Saskatoon, SK. Our scope of work will include replacing all of the concrete capstones and stair treads with Indiana limestone. The wooden column bases will also be replaced with Indiana limestone, brick replacement of the stair rails will include a matching limestone porch surface. Indiana limestone was used on the original structure in 1910.
Of all the grand old houses in Saskatoon, the Hopkins house is probably the grandest and most well known. It stands on the river bank in Idylwyld and still towers over its neighbors which are themselves large and impressive houses. William Hopkins was mayor of Saskatoon when, in 1910 he bought the lot and started to build his grand house. By the time it was finished about two years later, Hopkins was no longer mayor, but he and his wife Alice remained business and society leaders in the city. Their home was a centre of social activities, especially in the summer, until William died in 1935.
In 1938 the house had been sold and turned into apartments. At the height of the Depression, an apartment in a prestigious neighborhood like Idylwyld would have had a great appeal to those who could no longer afford the house around and about, and the six suites were rarely vacant. By 1960, times and the use of the house had changed again and it was bought by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. They partitioned some of the larger rooms and added bathrooms.
In 1982, Mrs Adrienne Frame bought the house, which by then had 38 rooms. She restored the house to its original state by removing some of the added walls and bathrooms. With the number of rooms reduced to 27, she began patiently working to restore the original details of plaster work, oak woodwork and other fittings.
The most striking feature of the two and a half sotrey brick building is the huge classical portico at the front. It has full height Ionic columns and a large pediment. The portico is flanked by two round turrets. Originally, balconies extended down the length of both sides of the house on the main and second floors. It stands in gardens that slope down to the river. For many years these gardens were the sites of Alice Hopkins' famous garden parties.
The inside was finished with the best material and an eye to opulence. The entrance was floored with inlaid marble while the rest of the floors and all of the woodwork were oak. Over the years much of the original detail was damaged and painted over. Adrienne Frame painstakingly restored it. Missing baseboards have been replaced with custom milled oak to match the 10-inch-high originals. In the den, each set of windows had 102 brass buttons and screws which had all been covered over with paint. Each had to be cleaned individually. The citizens of Saskatoon can be grateful to Mrs Fame for the hundreds of hours of work it took to restore the city's grandest house to its original glory.
Text Credit: Elizabeth Diamond, prepared by Local History Staff in the book "Saving our City".
Nicolene Watson - Director of Media
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