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Toronto’s architectural gems—the Grange and AGO

26 Jun

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The Grange and the modern south facade of the Art Gallery of Ontario behind it. (Photo, 2013).

The land where the Grange is located was at one time part of an hundred-acre park lot granted by Governor Simcoe to Solicitor General Robert I. D. Gray in the 1790s. In 1808, Mr. D’Arcy Boulton Jr., the eldest son of Attorney General D’Arcy Boulton, purchased 13 acres of Gray’s park lot for 13 pounds and named it the Grange Estate, after his ancestral home in England. In 1818, he erected a residence on the property, which he designed himself, at a time when brick buildings first began to appear in the town of York. The original gates to the estate were located at today’s Queen Street West and John Street. Queen Street was the southern boundary of his property, and Boulton had a gatekeeper’s cottage constructed at John and Queen Street. Later, Boulton ordered that the gates of the Grange be relocated further north, closer to his residence. The Boultons raised eight children within the home.

Inside the gates of the Grange, historical accounts state that two of Mr. Boulton’s horses encountered a wild bear and fended off an attack by the animal. The carriageway that led from the Grange to Queen Street, became the northern section of John Street, named in honour of Governor John Graves Simcoe. A street to the east of John Street also honoured the governor and was named Graves Street. However, it was eventually changed to Simcoe Street and retains this name today. 

When the Grange was built, to the north of it was the St. Leger race track on Dundas Street, the track extending as far north as the College Street of today. The south facade of the Grange was Neoclassical in design. It was symmetrical, with nine large windows facing the spacious grounds that gently sloped southward to Queen Street and Lake Ontario beyond. The Grange was one of the “truly important houses built in York in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. . . . not a shelter for immediate physical needs but a house like the one[s] at home [in Britain].” (The Ancestral Roof, Marion MacRae and Anthony Adamson, Clarke Irwin and Company, 1963).

The Grange possessed a large heavy door, designed to impress those who approached it. A fan-shaped transom window was above the door. Upon entering the home, guests were ushered into a spacious entry hall, and in front of them was a grand circular staircase that led to the second floor, where there was a music room for entertainment. Halfway up the staircase was a leaded glass window that contained the family crest and motto. The dining room and parlour were panelled with black walnut from the local forest, quality wood panelling employed generously throughout the remainder of the interior rooms as well. In front of the house was an oval carriage drive, which remains in existence today.

Upon the death of D’Arcy Boulton, the Grange was inherited by his son, William Henry Boulton, who was mayor of Toronto between the years 1845 and 1847, and again in 1858. When he died in 1874, his widow, Harriett, married Dr. Goldwin Smith the following year. Prior to immigrating to Canada, Goldwin had been a professor at Oxford. He enlarged the house by adding a west wing where grapes had previously been grown, and this addition became his library. It was also employed for formal afternoon tea parties. He also replaced the wooden porch with one of stone. The support pillars of the porch were an ornamented version of Doric columns.

During the years ahead, as the city expanded, Toronto’s art community grew, along with a desire for a permanent venue for exhibiting paintings. Mr. and Mrs. Goldwin Smith decided to bequeath the Grange to the City of Toronto to fulfill this need. However, they demanded that the facade of the house and the park surrounding it be preserved. Harriette died in 1909, and Goldwin Smith died in 1910. The house then became the property of the Art Museum of Toronto. From 1911 to 1918, it was used for art exhibitions and various administrative functions of the museum. However, if the museum were to expand, it was necessary to obtain land on Dundas Street. The Government of Ontario purchased the land for the gallery. The first section of the new galleries opened to the public on April 4, 1918. From its beginning in the Grange, the Art Museum of Toronto expanded and evolved into the Art Gallery of Toronto, now renamed the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Today, the Grange contains the members’ lounge and administrative offices of the AGO.

Sources

Toronto of Old, Henry Scadding, Toronto Oxford University Press, 1966 (original edition, 1873).

Toronto, Romance of a City, Cassell and Company, Toronto, 1956. 

Toronto, No Mean City, Eric Arthur, University of Toronto Press, 1964.

The Estates of Old Toronto, Liz Lundell, The Boston Mills Press, 1997

Toronto, the Place of Meeting, Frederick H. Armstrong, Ontario Historical Society, 1983.

Fonds 1244, Item 304

The Grange in 1907, with a gazebo-like porch, which no longer exits, on its east side. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1244, It. 0304 (1)

Series 372, Subseries 53, Item 70

The Grange and the park surrounding it in 1922. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 53, It. 70.

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                           The stone porch on the Grange in 2013.

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                        The Grange on a summer evening in 2013.

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                Dr. Goldwin Smith in 1909, the year before he died.

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Dr. Smith’s library, located in an an extension built of the west side of the house.

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The free-standing circular staircase in the Grange that led to the second floor.

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The stained-glass window midway up the staircase, and a statue in an alcove on the staircase.

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Medallion on ceiling of the Grange. The chandelier originally contained gas fixtures.

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                Classical designs on the crown mouldings in the Grange. 

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Interior view of the impressive front door of the Grange, with its fan-shaped transom window.

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                         Two of the fireplaces in the Grange

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To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. T he 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.  

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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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