Davis Mansion | Renaissance of a castle

Nestled on the heights of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, the former castle of Belvoir, renamed Manoir Davis in tribute to its first owner, Canadian philanthropist Sir Mortimer Barnett Davis, is being given a new boost thanks to major renovations with the aim of offering dream homes and events between past and present.

Posted on April 9

Emmanuelle Mozayan-Verschaeve

Emmanuelle Mozayan-Verschaeve
special collaboration

Dangerous research sometimes leads to special projects, as demonstrated by Louis Lespérance, who bought this exceptional home with his family at the beginning of 2021. “We came across this unique place while watching ads on Centris and we said there was something to do. Frankly, I was still a little hesitant before actually seeing it, but once I got there it was clear that I had to buy it,” recalled the young lawyer, seeing a great opportunity to start a prestigious project of “corporate retreat” and family development. festivities, while enhancing the heritage.


PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

Louis Lespérance, co-owner of Manoir Davis

Bringing neglected heritage back to life by renovating them to bring pages of history to life for the public has also become a business model for Louis Lespérance, who acquired the Maplewood Manor in Waterloo a few months later.

Second residence of Sir Mortimer Barnett Davis, the Château de Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts was built circa 1910. “He was an extremely influential Jewish businessman, president of Imperial Tobacco, who was nicknamed Tobacco King. He left a large portion of his fortune to build the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, where I was born,” said Mr. Lesperance.

The history of the mansion after Sir Davis’ death in 1928 remains obscure.


PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

The elegant staircase leads to the eight bedrooms spread over two levels. Each room has been furnished with care, just like in a family home. In the entrance, the armchairs invite you to take a break.

Promoters tried to do something in the 1990s and then at the turn of the new millennium, but it didn’t really work. When I bought it, the lady who lived there had done colossal work on the envelope, but a lot still needed to be done inside.

Louis Lespérance, one of the owners of the manor

“We wanted the renovations to emphasize the magnificence of the rooms while creating an environment with modern comfort,” explains Louis Lespérance. For example, the kitchen shows a current design, but the anthracite color of the cabinets is reminiscent of the color of the exterior bricks.

A “family home” spirit

  • The mouldings, ornaments and the curved shape of the windows and doors characterize the old spirit of the building.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    The mouldings, ornaments and the curved shape of the windows and doors characterize the old spirit of the building.

  • This great room consists of a relaxed living room TV area and a more formal lounge conducive to relaxing by the fireplace.  The mantelpiece is clad in stone identical to that of the facade.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    This great room consists of a relaxed living room TV area and a more formal lounge conducive to relaxing by the fireplace. The mantelpiece is clad in stone identical to that of the facade.

  • Meals can be taken in the large dining room or in the adjacent solarium.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    Meals can be taken in the large dining room or in the adjacent solarium.

  • A cupboard and an old wall sconce coexist with the contemporary kitchen without a note.  Available in grey, the latter is warmed by discreet gold handles, stools with colored seats and a wooden floor.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    A cupboard and an old wall sconce coexist with the contemporary kitchen without a note. Available in grey, the latter is warmed by discreet gold handles, stools with colored seats and a wooden floor.

  • Small carpets, refined wall lamps and carved wooden consoles enliven the second floor hallway leading to six bedrooms.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    Small carpets, refined wall lamps and carved wooden consoles enliven the second floor hallway leading to six bedrooms.

  • The Davis, or master bedroom, has a fireplace, large walk-in closet and private deck.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    The Davis, or master bedroom, has a fireplace, large walk-in closet and private deck.

  • An alcove brings a lot of charm to the Sereine room.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    An alcove brings a lot of charm to the Sereine room.

  • The attached bathroom of the Sereine room has a roll-top bath and shower.  The floor is distinguished by a pattern of cabochons.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    The attached bathroom of the Sereine room has a roll-top bath and shower. The floor is distinguished by a pattern of cabochons.

  • The two bedroom family suite is on the top floor.  The visible bars give it a specific cachet.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    The two bedroom family suite is on the top floor. The visible bars give it a specific cachet.

  • This bathroom is reserved for the residents of the Family Suite.

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    This bathroom is reserved for the residents of the Family Suite.

  • Excavated by Louise Poissant, the mother of Louis Lespérance, these molds made for the filing of a cigar patent are a good illustration of the original owner's past, nicknamed

    PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    Excavated by Louise Poissant, the mother of Louis Lespérance, these molds made for the filing of a cigar patent are a good illustration of the past of the original owner, nicknamed “Tobacco King”. Mrs. Poissant and her sister-in-law Lucie Major are currently looking for historical documents to complete this display wall.

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Several family members have actively participated in the whole project from the business plan to the architectural planning, including the long-term vision and the decoration. ” My father [François Lespérance] got up at night to draw plans! My uncle [Bernard Lespérance] and my aunt [Lucie Major] were very involved as well as my cousin Jean-Philippe, who brought us even closer. My mother [Louise Poissant] took care of the furniture and decoration,” he explains.

The decorative choices reflect their heterogeneous flavors well. The time spent in antique shops, estate sales and flea markets is countless. “We started these purchases before we took possession of the mansion, because it takes a lot of time to furnish 10,000 square meters.2, especially because it was essential for us to take special care of it. We wanted to find elements that fit well in place while respecting the budget. †

Each element is printed on a neutral background dominated by noble materials, such as wood and marble. Curved architectural ornaments correspond to the classical spirit of the building. Louis Lespérance says he is particularly proud of the eight bathrooms, which are all different but perfectly in harmony with the overall decor. “The bathtubs are positioned to give a view of the lake; it is also the panorama that we have in different rooms. †


PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

With its black accents and antique mirror, the master bathroom in the Davis room combines modernity and classicism.

For good times

From now on, the mansion has regained all its shine and is available for rent to organize events. “We have a list of trusted suppliers including caterers, florists, photographers, videographers, makeup artists that we highly recommend to our clients to organize their wedding, for example, but they can call on whoever they want. Most of all, we rent the space and what we want is for people to have a good time there,” explains the lawyer.

The next step will be devoted to outdoor facilities, as a large terrace built on the mountainside will be able to accommodate beautiful receptions. Between the lake and the forest, the setting seems idyllic for a holiday or a great occasion. Mr. Lespérance and his family, who believe deeply in their business model, continue to explore Quebec in search of other heritage gems and even consider investing beyond its borders.

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