Toronto’s architectural gems—the Ellis Building on Adelaide near Spadina


The Ellis Building at 384 Adelaide Street West is an architectural gem that enhances the cityscape of the Toronto’s downtown. It is on the north side of Adelaide, to the immediate east of the Balfour Building, which is won the northeast corner of Spadina and Adelaide Street. During the latter days of the 19th century, small houses were located on the site, their postal addresses 384-388 Adelaide Street West. In 1922, the following occupied these homes—at 384 lived William F. Brown, 386-Arthur Craddock, and at 388-Thomas Ogglesby.

The small structures were demolished and in 1923, the Toronto Directories revealing that in that year the “Ellis Building” occupied the site. The four-storey building, with extra space in a partially below-ground level, was the headquarters of the Barber-Ellis Stationary company, a wholesaler. Excess space within the building was rented to other tenants , including Thomas and Sons, lithographers, and Hurst Aubrey Company Limited, a manufacturing agent. Today, the most prominent company in the Ellis Building is Diamond and Schmitt Incorporated, a prestigious architectural firm. They designed the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (Toronto’s opera house).

The building’s architect was  William F. Sparling and Company. This firm also designed the Masonic Temple at Davenport and Yonge, and the Loblaw’s Groceteria Building at Lakeshore and Bathurst Streets. The Ellis building is an industrial loft structure, similar to several other such buildings located in the area. However, the Ellis Building has a more neo-classical design, including dentils in its cornice. The concrete structure has red bricks, with spacious windows to light the interior. Apart from the entrance, which is on the east side at the front, the building is symmetrical in design, with restrained ornamentations that create an impressive but orderly facade.

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The Ellis Building, showing the Balfour Building on Spadina to the east of it. The Ellis Building complements the other structures on the street. 


On the second floor of the building, there are decorative faux balconies. Below the second-storey cornice are fleur-de-lis designs (stylized lilies) .

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The south-facing facade of the Ellis Building, and the row of dentils in the cornice.

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            The entranceway of the building and the south facade


                    The Ellis Building, gazing east along Adelaide Street.

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To view other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

The Heintzman Building on Yonge Street, next to the Elgin Theatre

The tall narrow building at 242 Yonge Street, south of Dundas

Toronto’s first Reference Library at College and St. George Streets.

The Commodore Building at 315-317 Adelaide St. West

The Graphic Arts Building (condo) on Richmond Street

The Art Deco Victory Building on Richmond Street

The Concourse Building on Adelaide Street

The old Bank of Commerce at 197 Yonge Street

The Traders Bank on Yonge Street—the city’s second skyscraper

Toronto’s old Union Station on Front Street, built in 1884

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at King and Simcoe Streets.

The row houses on Glasgow Street, near Spadina and College Streets

The bank at Queen and Simcoe that resembles a Greek temple

The cenotaph at Toronto’s Old City Hall

The magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral at King East and Church Streets

St. Stanislaus Koska RC Church on Denison Avenue, north of Queen West

The historical St. Mary’s Church at Adelaide and Bathurst Streets

The Bishop’s (St, Michael’s) Palace on Church Street, Toronto

The Union Building at Simcoe and King Street West

The Ed Mirvish (Pantages, Imperial, Canon) Theatre, a true architectural gem on Toronto’s Yonge Street

The Waverly Hotel on Spadina near College Street.

The Art Deco Bank of Commerce building on King Street West.

The Postal Delivery Building, now the Air Canada Centre (ACC)

The Bellevue Fire Station on College Street

The Bank of Nova Scotia at King and Bay Streets

Toronto’s old Sunnyside Beach

Toronto’s architectural gems—the Runnymede Library

Spadina Avenue – sinful, spicy and diverse

The Reading Building, a warehouse loft on Spadina Avenue

The Darling Building on Spadina Avenue

The amazing Fashion Building on Spadina Avenue

Toronto’s architectural gems – the Tower Building at Spadina and Adelaide Street

The Balfour Building at 119 Spadina Avenue

The Robertson Building at 215 Spadina that houses the Dark Horse Espresso Bar

An architectural gem – Grossman’s Tavern at Spadina and Cecil Streets

History of the house that contains the Paul Magder Fur Shop at 202 Spadina

An important historic building that disappeared from the northeast corner of Spadina and College

Historic bank building on northeast corner of Spadina and Queen West

History of the Backpackers’ Hotel at King and Spadina

Hamburger corner – Spadina and Queen Streets

Lord Lansdowne Public School on Spadina Crescent

The Victory Burlesque Theatre at Dundas and Spadina

The Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Dundas and Spadina

Buildings on the west side of Spadina a short distance north of Queen Street.

History of the site of the Mcdonalds on northwest corner of Queen and Spadina

A former mansion at 235 Spadina that is now almost hidden from view.


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

The Art Deco bus terminal at Bay and Dundas Streets.

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

Toronto’s Draper Street, a time-tunnel into the 19th century

The Black Bull Tavern at Queen and Soho Streets, established in 1822

History of the 1867 fence around Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West at York Street

Gathering around the radio as a child in the 1940s

The opening of the University Theatre on Bloor Street, west of Bay St.

122 persons perish in the Noronic Disaster on Toronto’s waterfront in 1949

Historic Victoria Memorial Square where Toronto’s first cemetery was located, now hidden amid the Entertainment District

Visiting one of Toronto’s best preserved 19th-century streets-Willcocks Avenue

The 1930s Water Maintenance Building on Brant Street, north of St. Andrew’s Park

Toronto’s architectural gems-photos of the Old City from a book published by the city in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems in 1912

Toronto’s architectural gems – the bank on the northeast corner of Queen West and Spadina

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

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

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