Toronto’s architectural gems—old church at College and Elizabeth Streets

old church, College and Elizabeth

The old church building at 88 College Street, on the northwest corner of College and Elizabeth Streets, is today occupied by the University of Toronto, housing the Joint Centre for Bioethics. Elizabeth Street is one block west of Bay Street, running parallel with Bay. The church was constructed in 1891 on building lots 123 and 124, the postal addresses of these lots being #86 and #88 College Street. Information I read online that the church was erected in 1893, but the Toronto Directories list it as being on the site in 1891.

The building was home to the Zion Congregational Church. When it was built, the section of Elizabeth Street north of College was named Howland Street.  The Congregationalists arrived in Toronto in 1834, and first met in a Masonic Temple, a small wooden building on Colbourne Street. The congregation then relocated to a vacant Methodist Church on George Street. They erected their first chapel in 1840 at Bay and Adelaide Streets, and finally moved to 88 College Street. In 1925, the Congregational Church amalgamated with the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches to form the United Church of Canada. The baptism, death and marriage records of the church at 88 College Street are now held by the United Church of Canada.

The church is a mixture of architectural styles, with Roman arches above Gothic windows, and Medieval gargoyles projecting from the corners of the roof above its south facade. Though no longer a functioning church, it retains the charm of former years and the city has been enriched by its survival.


West facade of the church (left-hand side of the photo) and the south facade facing College Street. On the corner of the roof on the left-hand side of the south facade is a gargoyle.


                     Gargoyle on the southwest corner of the roof.


South facade, with Romanesque arches above the windows. In this photo, the gargoyles are evident on the west and east corners at the roof line.


West facade and the west doorway. Windows and doorway are Gothic.


East facade facing Elizabeth Street. Roman arches frame Gothic windows.


                            The east-facing door of the church.


The old Zion Congregational Church on College Street, the Women’s College Hospital in the background.

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

The Ellis Building on Adelaide Street near Spadina Ave.

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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One thought on “Toronto’s architectural gems—old church at College and Elizabeth Streets

  1. I was interested to read your article on 88 College Street in Toronto. I have the pleasure of working in this building with the Standardized Patient Program (Joint Centre for Bioethics moved out several years ago). You have the building dated from 1891 or 1893, but the Toronto Heritage website has 1882. Thank you for appreciating our old gem!

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