Toronto’s architectural gems- the Second Cup Coffee shop at King and John Streets


The Second Cup Coffee Shop in the Entertainment District at King and John Streets is housed in a Second-Empire Style building that was constructed on the site of a former a curling rink. The red-brick structure, which has yellow-brick trim surrounding the windows, remains as impressive today as when it was built in 1883. The ornate structure, with its Mansard roof, typical of houses built in the Second-Empire Style, is a Toronto landmark that many people pass daily while attending TIFF or the many restaurants along King Street. On a hot summer night, when the street is packed with people, the coffee shop is crowded.

The building has a long history. It was built for S. W. Johnson, a druggist, who operated his shop on the premises until 1896, when another druggist, George Gibbard bought the business. During the years ahead, the premises was home to many different restaurants, including that of Mrs. Ryan Kate and James Mallan, who operated a New York-style eatery. The building was also at one time the offices of Cullen-May Richardson, an engineering firm. In the 1939, it housed the Union Trading Company.

I cannot help but wonder if the attractiveness of the structure played a major role in its preservation. Its spacious second and third-floor rooms, as well as the distinctive appearance of the ground-floor shop, made it ideal an commercial establishment, from its inception in 1883 until the present day.


The ornate gabled windows and 19th-century tile patterns on the Mansard roof


Red-brick walls with yellow-brick trim and yellow-brick pilasters (columns)


             Mansard roof and detailed brickwork on the King Street facade



                                East facade of the building, facing John Street.


    Southwest corner of King West and John Street at night (December 2012)

To view other posts about Toronto’s past and its historic buildings:

Military hero of the War of 1812 lived near corner of Spadina and Queen West.

Photos of the surroundings of the CN Tower and and the St. Lawrence Market in 1977

The old Dominion Bank Building at King and Yonge Street

The Canada Life Building on University and Queen Street West.

Campbell House at the corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue

A study of Osgoode Hall

Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

Toronto’s streetcars through the past decades

History of Trinity Bellwoods Park

A history of Toronto’s famous ferry boats to the Toronto Islands

Toronto’s Old City Hall at Bay and Queen Streets

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