CHARLES ENDERTON AND THE
GREAT CRESCENTWOOD LAND AUCTION
by George Siamandas
Today newspaper advertising is a major way of marketing real estate but at the turn of the century full page newspaper advertising was pioneered during the sale of Crescentwood lots by Charles Enderton. Enderton was an American born in 1864, in Lafayette Indiana. Orphaned at three he became a lawyer in St Paul Minnesota. He was attracted by the development opportunities in Winnipeg in the 1890s. He arrived in 1890 at age 26 eager to market the city's properties. He billed himself as the first American to do real estate in Winnipeg since the roaring 1881 land boom.
He loved the area south of the Assiniboine River and thought it deserved to be Winnipeg's preferred residential area. Enderton acquired the land in a series of purchases but essentially the land was bounded by Grosvernor to the south, the Assiniboine River to the north and east and Cambridge to the west. In May 1902 Charles Enderton launched a contest to find a new name for the suburb people had been calling many things. The prize of $100 was won by a 16 year old boy called George Larry who lived on Gertrude St.
Sales were slow in the 1910s. There was no streetcar service and no sewers. With mounting property costs in 1917, Enderton was forced to sell the land off in the Great Crescentwood Land Auction. It was heavily advertised in the newspaper for weeks in advance. Colour maps were printed showing available lots. "You've got to live somewhere," Enderton's ads urged, "Why not live in Crescentwood."
The auction was held on Saturday Sept 15 starting at 2:00 pm "under the big tent" on Harrow and 5,000 to 6,000 attended. The auction ran to midnight. Only 100 of 133 lots sold. Stingy Winnipeggers were chided for their lack of vision in Winnipeg's finest residential area. Another auction was necessary the weekend following. Valued at $1,300,000, the lots sold for only $428,000, and for decades many remained empty.
BRINGING IN PLANNING CONTROL
Enderton's real innovation was the system of caveats or property restrictions that were intended to create the best residential area in Winnipeg. No dwelling could be built for less than $3,500, each house had to be set back 60 feet. And only residential uses were permitted. On Wellington Cresc the houses had to cost $6,000 and set back 100 feet from the street. There could be no more than 1 house per lot and no buildings fro other than residential purposes.
Enderton died in 1920 while driving his car down Academy Road and Borebank. Only 56 years old. A life long bachelor, Enderton left an estate worth $1.2 million. it fetched only $400,000. He never lived in the area preferring an old apartment near the Union Station on Broadway Ave.
In an era of dishonesty and outright crooks, Enderton was a professional. He actually believed in the area. He foresaw the need for controls. He could see beyond the short term money making towards the future of his home. He also sold land in the west end and helped sell the Ponemah resort area south of Winnipeg Beach. He was well connected in Winnipeg society, and was a member of all the fine clubs and societies.