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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Toronto’s Temple Building (demolished)

             1902, Canada archives  a028964[1]

The Temple Building on Bay Street in 1902, after a tenth storey had been added. The camera faces the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond Street West. The Old City Hall, on Queen Street West, is visible in the background. Photo from the Canada Archives, aO28964

In the 1880s, as elevator technology became more proficient, Toronto began experimenting with taller commercial buildings. Multi-floor structures, with elevators to connect the various floors, allowed greatly increased floor space and thus greater profits. These structures became possible because iron and steel were being employed to erect the frames of the buildings. However, the stone and brick exteriors were still sustained the weight of the walls, as opposed to using solely relying on the steel frame.

In the 1890s, as technology improved, steel frames began supporting the entire weight of the walls, allowing for greater height without compromising the  overall strength of the structure. This allowed true “skyscrapers” to be erected.

When City Council voted to erect a new city hall at the top of Bay Street at Queen West, it was evident that taller buildings were in the future for upper Bay Street. There were already tall office buildings to the south of it at King Street, but the upper portion of Bay Street remained mostly low-rise commercial structures and frame cottages with stucco facades. The first of the taller buildings to be planned for this section of the street was the North American headquarters of the Independent Order of Foresters, a fraternal service club founded in 1874 to provided life insurance, savings accounts, and investment opportunities for families. Named the Temple Building, it was also was to contain club rooms for the members.

The Temple Building was at 62-76 Richmond Street, on the northwest corner of Bay and Richmond Streets. A competition was held for the architectural contract, which was won by George W. Gouinlock (1861-1932).  This was an important contract in the history of the city, as it was the first time that a Canadian had been hired to design all the stages of erecting a Toronto skyscraper. Gouinlock was born in Paris, Ontario and was educated in Winnipeg and Toronto. He was later to design the Press Building at the CNE in 1905, the Music Building in 1907, the Ontario Government Building (now the Medieval Times building) in 1926, and the Horticultural Building in 1927. All these structures remain on the CNE grounds today.

The corner stone of the nine-storey Temple Building, with its cast-iron frame, was laid by the Governor General, the Earl of Aberdeen. The structure was completed in 1897, and for a year or so was the tallest building in the British Empire. Above the ninth floor there was an observation space, with a wide view of the downtown area. Created in the Romanesque Revival style, the building was similar in design to the City Hall to the north of it, which was completed in 1899 (today’s Old City Hall). The foundation walls supporting the Temple Building were over three feet thick, composed of stone and brick. Despite their immense size, it was the steel frame of the structures that supported it. It was devoid of architectural detail, other than over the two main doorways. The facades contained red bricks and Credit Valley sandstone. On the ninth floor, the walls were reduced in size to eighteen inches. The rectangular windows were recessed, which would have reduced the amount of sunlight entering the interior if Gouinlock had not created bay windows that captured extra light. It possessed heating and air-conditioning systems, marble fountains with taps that spouted iced water, mosaic floors, rich wood panelling, and fireproofing. The turrets on the corners above the ninth floor added to its appearance of Skyscraper height.

In 1901, a tenth storey was added to the structure, but the original cornice was retained. In 1921, the firm of Shepard and Calvin was hired to make minor changes and upgrades to the building. The Foresters relocated in 1954 to larger premises on Jarvis Street, and then to a 22-storey building in Don Mills.

However, as the 20th century progressed, Toronto rushed headlong into the future, fully entranced with the idea of out with the old and in with the new. The desire to create even higher buildings became overpowering. The last of the tenants of the magnificent Temple Building vacated the premises on June 29, 1970, and it was demolished later in the year. On the site of the Temple Building, a faceless 32-storey high-rise office building was erected, which contributed little to the streetscape. Its address was 390 Bay Street, and it was named the Thomson Building.

I remember the Temple Building quite well, as in the 1940s when my parents visited Eatons at Queen and Yonge, we travelled on the Bay streetcars and alighted at Bay and Queen. We walked eastward to the Eaton store. As a young boy, I often glanced southward toward the building, as in my imagination it resembled the castles that I had seen in my picture books.

Sources: urbantoronto.ca, heritagetoronto.org, torontoist.com, www.foresters.com, www.blogto.com, and “Lost Toronto” by William Dendy.

1890- Library pictures-r-1431[1]

Views of the Temple Building in 1897 from the collection of the Toronto Public Library, r-1431

                   1900. library pictures-r-1457[1]

View looking north on Bay Street in 1900, the clock tower of the City Hall (now the Old City Hall) visible in the background. Toronto Public Library, r- 1431

             1910, Library  pcr-2200[1]

Postcard view, looking north on Bay Street in 1901 from Richmond Street, Toronto Public Library, pcr-2200

             

Similar view to the previous photo, taken in 1910. Photo from the Ontario Archives, 10021945

1910, Death Edward VII  Library  pictures-r-6528[1]

Entrance to the Temple Building in 1910, when King Edward VII died. Toronto Public Library, r-6528 

Bell telephone dinner, March 21, 1911,  Canada  a029799[1]

Banquet held by the Bell Telephone Company on March 21, 1911, inside the Temple Building. Canada Archives, aO 29799

1928-temple-building-f1244_it7361[1]

View gazing south from Queen Street in 1928, from the steps of today’s Old City Hall. Toronto Archives, F 1244, Item 7361.

                  May, 2013

View looking south on Bay Street from Queen Street in May 2013. The building on the right-hand side of the photo (in the foreground) is now on the site of the Temple Building.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

Link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

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Toronto’s old movie theatres in Toronto Life magazine

Toronto Life magazine has published online many photographs of Toronto’s old movie theatres. They were derived from the book shown below.

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Published by Dundurn Press, the book contains information on 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. 

For a link to the Toronto Life photographic essay.

http://torontolife.com/culture/movies-and-tv/photos-old-cinemas-doug-taylor-toronto-local-movie-theatres-of-yesteryear/.

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto, or a Link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

 

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Toronto’ disappearing Bay and Gable houses

324-328 Rich 4

Bay and Gable houses comprise two of the three houses in the above photo. Located at 324-328 Richmond Street West, they were built between 1873 and 1875. Demolished in 2012, a condo tower was erected on the site.

As high-rise condo towers are constructed throughout Toronto’s downtown core, the pressure to redevelop sites that contain low-rise structures has greatly increased. Many of these sites contain heritage houses have survived for almost a century and a half, but are now at risk of being demolished. This is a great pity, as the city’s unique style of domestic architecture is disappearing from our urban scene. I am referring to the Bay and Gable (Bay n’ Gable or Bay-n-Gable) houses, which in the 19th century were highly popular in Toronto’s residential neighbourhoods.

When they were built, Bay and Gable houses were a practical response to the housing needs of Torontonians. Taxes on homes were determined according to the width of the building lot (the property’s frontage on the street). As a result, builders subdivided lots, creating ones that were only 13-20 feet wide, but often 150 feet deep. Architects responded by designing homes to accommodate these narrow lots—Bay and Gables. The earliest such house that I have discovered in Toronto was built in 1870. If anyone has knowledge of one that was constructed pre-1870, whether it is in Toronto or elsewhere, I would appreciate it if they would inform me.

As stated, Bay and Gables were tall and narrow, extending a considerable distance back from the street. I was unable to verify who actually designed the first of these houses, but Patricia McHugh in her book “Toronto Architecture—A City Guide,” suggests that it was likely David B. Dick. The style spread from Toronto to many cities and towns throughout Ontario. Some were also built in western Canada.

These homes were not only practical, but caught the imagination of the public, which viewed them as resembling upper-class homes of earlier decades, even though they were on a much smaller scale. It was not long before they were common in many neighbourhoods, especially in Cabbagetown, Cork Town, along College Street, in Trinity Bellwoods, Parkdale, St. Andrew’s Ward, Roncesvalles, the Annex, and Don Vale. 

Prior to the Bay and Gables, houses with bay windows on the first floor were already common throughout the New England States and Canada’s maritime provinces. These homes were usually built of wood, but in Toronto they were of brick. Today, they are sometimes referred to as “half Bay and Gable.” Those that have Mansard roofs are in the Second Empire style. There is a row of them on Draper Street, in the Spadina/King area.

Unlike houses with bay windows in other cities, Toronto’s Bay and Gable houses contained bay windows that soared from the ground-floor level to the second and often the third storeys. The bay windows occupied half of their facades, and were not only attractive, but like the style itself, very practical. They increased the amount of daylight entering the houses in an era without electric lighting, and facilitated a better flow of air inside the rooms. This was important when smoky fireplaces were employed for heating, iron stoves for cooking, and chamber pots for nightly necessities. Odours from the rear of the home, created by backhouses and stables, often entered the houses. The large bay windows and the 11’ or 12’ ceilings allowed air within the rooms to circulate more freely.

Bay and Gable houses were affordable for middle-class families. They were rarely built as detached homes, but rather in pairs or as row housing. The height of popularity for the style was mainly between 1875 and 1890. Although they closely resembled each other, their trim and architectural detailing on their gables varied greatly. They possessed elements of  the Italianate and Gothic in the bargeboard trim on the peaked roofs. Stained glass windows were sometimes inserted in the transom windows above the doors. Most Bay and Gables were built of bricks that were red, yellow or white from Toronto brickyards, although a few were constructed of wood. In the grander homes, terracotta tiles were often inserted into the facades for decorative detailing. Such homes possessed larger lots and possessed considerably more street frontage.

On the ground-floor levels of the homes, parlours usually occupied the front space facing the street. Dining rooms were in the centre position, and kitchens at the rear. The parlours often had medallions on the ceilings and ornate crown plaster mouldings. The bedrooms were on the second storey, with an extra bedroom on the third floor.

Today, Bay and Gable homes are very popular with people who wish to live in heritage houses. Their interiors are often gutted and refurbished to suit the modern era. Interior walls are sometimes removed to create large open spaces. However, the facades are usually not altered, but when they are adapted for offices and restaurants, the lower portions of the facades are often obscured. The style has also been replicated by modern builders and appear as row houses on such streets as Weston Road, north of St. Clair.

It is a pity that more effort is not being extended to preserve Toronto’s original and truly unique style of domestic architecture—19th-century Bay and Gable houses. 

Souces :mirvishgehrytoronto.com – www.blogto.com – “Toronto Architecture, A City Guide” by Patricia McHugh

59-61 Denison

A pair of Bay and Gable homes at 59-61 Denison Avenue in the Kensington Market area, likely constructed in the 1880s .

424 Wellington W.  2

Two Bay and Gables that today have the postal address 424 Wellington Street West. They were built in 1889 by James Hewett, and are much larger than most homes in this style. 

DSCN0539

Decorative terracotta tiles on the south facade of the houses at 424 Wellington Street West.

on College between St. George and Henry Street

Bay and Gables on College Street, between St. George and Henry Streets. They have been renovated for commercial purposes, but fortunately, the ground-floor bay windows have not been altered. Photo taken in April, 2015.

west side of Draper St.

Bay and Gable row houses on the west side of Draper Street, in the Spadina/King area, built in the mid-1880s. Photo taken in May, 2016.

                  20-22 Kensington Ave.

   20-22 Kensington Avenue, north of Dundas Street in the Kensington Market.

                 64 Spadina Ave.

Only the northern half of a pair of Bay and Gable homes survives at 64 Spadina Avenue, a short distance south of King Street West.

College St.  2

The house on the west (right-hand) side of this pair of Bay and Gable houses on College Street has been renovated for a coffee shop. The ground-floor bay windows have been removed.

20 Bellevue Ave.

Houses at 18-20 Bellevue Avenue in the Kensington Market, built in 1874. The house with the blue trim is a particular favourite of mine.

                   DSCN0913

The second and third storeys of a Bay and Gable, with its bargeboard trim.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                          cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb    

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or a link to order this book: https://www.dundurn.com/books/Torontos-Local-Movie-Theatres-Yesteryear

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

 

 

 

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Toronto’s Board of Trade Building (demolished)

1900  20101227-1900-Board_of_Trade_Building_Front_Street[1]

The Board of Trade Building in 1900, located at 2-8 Front Street East, at Front and Yonge Streets. Photo from the Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 0217.

As the 19th century progressed, Toronto continued to prosper as it was the provincial capital and a major financial centre. Thus, a Board of Trade was established in 1845 to promote the interests of the business community. In 1884, the Board amalgamated with the Corn Exchange and a larger building was required. Members of the Board felt that it was important that the new headquarters reflect the prosperity and importance of the city. To ensure that this was accomplished, an architectural competition was initiated, the budget for the structure set at $200,000. Eight American and eleven Canadian designs were submitted, which were evaluated by Professor Ware of the Columbia University Department of Architecture. He recommended three of the designs, two of them Canadian and one American, and then allowed the Board to decide which firm should be granted the commission.

Many Torontonians were upset when the Board chose a British company with offices in New York, instead of the well-known Canadian firm of Darling and Curry. To add strength to the dispute, it became known that Professor Ware had stated that the Toronto company’s submission was superior. Despite the howls of protest, the Board hired the American architectural firm.

During the construction, three floors of brickwork collapsed to the ground because the support beams were unable to sustain the weight. The architects dismissed the building company, and shortly after, the Board dismissed the architects. Edward A. Kent from a Buffalo firm was hired to complete the building, according to the original designs. When the Board of Trade Building was completed in 1892, it was $140,000 over budget. With its Gothic and Romanesque designs, the building was a picturesque structure that attracted great attention from tourists and local citizens alike. It was a favourite among those who purchased postcards of Toronto, in an era when postcards were a highly popular.

Despite the many problems that had occurred, most critics agreed that the seven-storey structure was one of the finest in Toronto. It was felt that it ably represented the ideals and prosperity of the city. They ignored the fact that it was almost an exact replica of the Boston Chamber of Commerce Building, erected a few years earlier. By far the most impressive structure on Front Street, it overshadowed the warehouses and commercial structures to the east and west of it. The tower above the seventh floor, with its Turkish influences, dominated the corner. Its facades were faced with bricks from Toronto brickyards, and Credit Valley sandstone was employed for decorative trim. The windows on the top floor had gabled arches above them. They were the largest windows in the structure, allowing generous light to enter the top floor where the board meetings were held. On the same floor was the club room.

The Board of Trade occupied the building until 1914, when it sold the premises and relocated north on Yonge Street to the Royal Bank Building (at King Street). In 1921, when the Toronto Transportation (Transit) Commission was created to operate the streetcars and buses of the city, it moved into the former Board of Trade Building. The TTC remained in the premises until 1958, when it relocated to Yonge and Davisville.

The Toronto Board of Trade Building was demolished in 1958. During the 1960s, many of the other 19th-century buildings on Front Street were also demolished. The Flat Iron (Gooderham) Building and the warehouses on the south side of Front, west of Jarvis Street, were among the exceptions.

After the demise of the Board of Trade Building, there was an expansive parking lot on the site. However, in 1982, a 13-storey office complex of glass and steel was constructed on the location—the EDS Office Tower. It is today directly across from the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

                                                             * * *

I remember the Board of Trade Building as I passed it many times when visiting the St. Lawrence Market in the 1950s. I travelled to the market via the old Yonge streetcars, disembarking  at Yonge Street and walking east along Front Street. However, being a teenager at the time, I never stopped to admire this exceptional building. I now regret my lack of interest.

Sources: William Dendy, “ “Lost Toronto,” archiseek.com

c. 1890  I0001936[1]

Board of Trade Building, the photo taken shortly after it opened in 1892. Ontario Archives, 10001936.

c. 1890  I0001937[1]

   The building’s entrance on Front Street in the 1890s. Ontario Archives 10001937.

1900  pictures-r-5926[1]

Stereoscopic photo of the building, dated 1900. Toronto Public Library Collection, r-5926

1910- r-2169[1]

Postcard of the building, dated 1910, gazing east along Front Street. The old Bank of Montreal, now the Hockey Hall of Fame, is on the left-hand side of the photo. Toronto Public Library Collection, r-2169

Fonds 1244, Item 10072

Gazing north on Yonge Street in 1912, from the roof of the old Customs House (now demolished) on the southwest corner of Front and Yonge Streets. The Board of Trade Building is on the right-hand(east side) of Yonge. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 10072.

Head Office Building, Front and Yonge – March 2, 1923

The Board of Trade Building on March 2, 1923. View looks toward the northeast corner of Front and Yonge Streets. Toronto Archives, S 0071, Item 1905.

Fonds 1266, Item 1860

View of the north side of Front Street on January 15, 1924. The Board of Trade Building is visible on the northeast corner of Front and Yonge. The construction site in the foreground remained empty for quite a few years. However, in 1929, the Dominion Building (Federal Customs building) was constructed on it. Toronto Archives, F1266, Item 1860.

Fonds 1244, Item 7189

Gazing east along Front Street at the north side of the street, c. 1930. The Bank of Montreal, built in 1885, on the northwest corner of Front and Yonge, is where the Hockey Hall of fame is located today. Toronto Archives, F1244, Item 7189.

1954  pictures-r-5928[1] (2)

The Board of Trade Building in 1954, Toronto Public Library, r-5928.

Former TTC Head Office located at Yonge and Front Sts – December 13, 1958

The Board of Trade Building in 1958, when it was being prepared for demolition. Toronto Archives, F1526, F10040, Item 0016.

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

For more information about the topics explored on this blog:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/tayloronhistory-comcheck-it-out/

The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   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 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]

Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s former movie theatres will be released in June, 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs and relates interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories.

                        Toronto: Then and Now®

Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will be released in June 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link shown below:

http://www.ipgbook.com/toronto–then-and-now—products-9781910904077.php?page_id=21.

 

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