View of the Toronto Waterworks (Maintenance) Building from north east corner of Brant and Richmond Street West.
A History of the Waterworks (Maintenance) Building at 505 Richmond Street West.
The Waterworks (Maintenance) Building is located on the northern section of the site of the old St. Andrew’s Market Square, established by the city in 1837, to serve the shopping needs of people in the west end of the city. The market square occupied a full city block, bordered by Brant, Maud, Adelaide, and Richmond Streets. It became the second largest in the city, only the St. Lawrence Market being larger. St. Andrew’s remained active until the beginning of the 20th century, when the streets surrounding the square changed from residential to industrial. Gradually, residents began visiting the newer shops on Spadina Avenue and St. Andrew’s Market slowly declined. Eventually, the buildings were closed.
On May 23, 1912, a plan was submitted to the City Council to demolish the market buildings and erect a water maintenance building. The submission was adopted on September 3, 1912. However, the plans were not implemented. In 1931, a detailed report on the St. Andrew’s Market buildings was initiated by the city’s Water Works Department, to study the feasibility of converting the buildings for their purposes. These plans were ultimately abandoned. However, the following year, the Annex building of the St. Andrew’s Market, which was on the southeast corner of Maud and Richmond, was demolished, along with the St. Andrew’s Hall. These buildings were levelled brick by brick, employing mainly shovels, crowbars and sledgehammers, the rubble hauled away in trucks. Their demolition provided a “make-work” project for labourers during one of the harshest years of the Great Depression, when over one third of the work force in Toronto was unemployed.
Construction commenced in 1932 on the building that became known as the Waterworks building. The area to the south of it, which was a city park, was named the St. Andrew’s Playground, the first such designated area in the city.
The St. Andrew’s Market Buildings that formerly occupied the site of the Waterworks Building. View gazes east along Richmond Street. On the right-hand side of the photo is Maud Street, and St. Andrew’s Playground is visible behind the buildings. Photo taken in 1921, Toronto Archives, F1214, item 299)
View of the construction of the Waterworks Building on May 6, 1932. At the top of the photo is Richmond Street West and at the lower left-hand corner of the photo is Maud Street. Augusta Avenue is also visible on the north side of Richmond Street. Toronto Archives, S 372, 0001, item 1117.
View looking west along Richmond Street West from the corner of Brant and Richmond Streets in November 1936. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.
Art Deco detailing on the north side (Richmond Street facade) of the Waterworks Building
Interior of the building on the south side, gazing east, adjacent to St. Andrew’s Playground. The magnificent beams and skylights are visible. Photo take in 2012.
Interior view of the north-south section, on the east side of the building. Photo taken 2012.
Beams and skylights of the interior of the building
View from Richmond Street into the interior courtyard
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To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern
Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book:
Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791