Toronto’s architectural gems–hidden Second Empire mansion on Peter Street

352 Adelaide

At  357 Peter St, a short distance north of King Street West, a Second Empire mansion is hidden behind a large red-brick warehouse. It was the home of one of the city’s most prominent citizens – the Hon. Adam Crooks QC. Because the buildings on the site are to be demolished for a condo, the house that has survived since it was built in 1873, will soon disappear forever.

In the late 1860s, on the land on the east side of  Peter Street,  between King and Adelaide Streets, was vacant except for the stables of John Sheldon and Company.  This changed when Adam Crooks built his home on this section of Peter Street in 1873. It was constructed in the Second Empire style, which was very popular during the 1870s and 1880s. The yellow brick home of Crooks possessed two floors, and a third floor within its Mansard roof. It can be seen in the picture above, tucked behind the large warehouse building.

Adam Crooks was born in West Flamborough Township in Upper Canada in 1847, educated at Upper Canada College and later at the University of Toronto. He was called to the bar in 1851, and became a Queen’s Council (QC) in 1863. In 1871 he ran for the Liberals in the  provincial riding of Toronto East, and was appointed to the cabinet in Oliver Mowat’s government. Mowat was the province’s third premier, serving as premier between the years 1872 and 1896.  During his tenure in office, it was Adam Crooks who was the main impetus behind the “Married Women’s Real Estate Act,” which allowed married women to hold property in their own name.

Crooks had a distinguished career in government. He passed away in 1885.


View of the north facade of the Crooks mansion. It was set back from Peter Street.


This 1899 map shows the Crooks home. In that year its address was 81 Peter Street, and it occupied four building lots, numbers 18-21. The map reveals that there was an impressive porch on the west side of the house, facing Peter Street. 

DSCN8504  DSCN8505

        North facade of the house        Mansard roof of the Second Empire House

Other recent posts about Toronto’s architectural heritage.


The 1847 Farr House at 905 Queen St. W.


St. Mary’s Church at Bathurst and Adelaide Streets


The Wheat Sheaf Tavern at Bathurst and King Streets.

DSCN7893 - Copy

The site of the George Weston Bakery at Peter and Richmond Streets


The Cameron House at Queen and Cameron Streets, a block west of Spadina

To view more posts on this blog about Toronto’s architectural heritage :



Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *