The Lumsden Building at 2-6 Adelaide Street East is on the northeast corner of Yonge and Adelaide Street East. Built between the years 1909 and 1910, its architect was John A. Mackenzie. The Lumsden Building was constructed from funds provided by the Lumsden Estate of Ottawa. In the early decades of the 20th century, it was viewed as an excellent investment, as the city was booming economically and office rental space was in great demand.

When completed, it was said to be the largest concrete-faced structure in the world. This was considered unusual, as in this decade, buildings with a structural steel frame were invariably covered with bricks or terracotta tiles. The architect employed concrete to create texture on the exterior surfaces of the structure, which otherwise would have been plain, and adorned the cornice with many modillions (brackets under the eaves). Decorative detailing around the windows were thick and heavy. Even today, the effect is rather unusual. The basement  of the Lumsden Building contained a swimming pool and a Turkish bath, these features certainly not common in office buildings in this era. Though the fancy cornice and the basement facilities no longer exist, they reflect the prestige this structure garnered in the first decade of the 20th century.

The building has endured well during the many decades since it was built. It is a unique structure that has no equal in the downtown area. Today, it is one of the most historic structures on Toronto’s main street, in the heart of the city’s busy financial district.

f1568_it0339[1]  after 1900

Gazing north on Yonge Street toward Adelaide Street, c. 1910. The Lumsden Building is visible on the northeast side of the intersection (right-hand side of photo). City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Fl. 568, It. 0339.

Fonds 1244, Item 10042

View facing east toward Yonge Street c. 1912, the Lumsden Building prominent on the left side of the photo. In this picture, it retains the ornate cornice around the top of the structure. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1244, It. 10042.

s0071_it7437[1]   Nov. 15, 1929

Gazing north on Yonge Street at Adelaide Street in 1929, the Lumsden Building on the right. City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, S. 0071, It. 7437.

Fonds 1244, Item 1956

Gazing north on Yonge Street in 1930, the Lumsden Building on the right. The photo provides a good view of its ornate cornice, which was removed in later years. City of Toronto Archives, Series 124, It. 1956.

                 Fonds 1526, File 4, Item 26

Looking north on Yonge Street on May 16, 1977. In this photo, the building’s ornate cornice has been removed. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 4, It. 26. 


The thick concrete ornamentations surrounding the windows of the Lumsden Building.(Photo, 2013)


The west facade of the Lumsden Building, gazing south on Yonge Street toward Adelaide Street in 2013.


Gazing east along Adelaide Street at Yonge Street. The west facade (left-hand side) and the south facade (right-hand side) are visible.


         The west facade of the building on Yonge Street in 2013.

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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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  


   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Theatres Included in the Book:

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)




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One thought on “Toronto’s Lumsden Building at 2-6 Adelaide Street East

  1. Hi, I don’t know if this is the place to mention this, but I just read the article on the Lumsden building. My great great grandfather’s company did the masonry/built this, I believe. H. N. Dancy and Son. We have many photos of their work, back then in Toronto (The Masonic Temple, for example). Just thought I’d pass this on, if anyone was interested.

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