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Category Archives: toronto architecture

Lost Toronto, the Central Building—45 Richmond St. West

                        Fonds 444, Item 21

The Central Building on the south side of Richmond Street West, between Yonge and Bay Streets, c. 1928. Toronto archives, F 044, Item 0021.

The Central Building at 45 Richmond Street West was not among the structures that architectural preservationists would likely have fought to save from the wrecker’s ball. Built between 1927 and 1928, it was rather plain, its facade containing few architectural ornamentations. It was an oddity for the decade in which it was constructed, as most 1920s commercial buildings tend toward a little more exuberance. Its architects were Baldwin and Greene, who also designed the Concourse Building at 100 Adelaide Street West. In contrast to the Central, it contained one of the finest Art Deco facades in the city. Today, its south facade remains much admired. If the Central Building had survived, I doubt that it would elicit the same respect and admiration that the Concourse building has generated.

The Central’s architects also created the Claridge Apartments, on the southwest corner of Avenue Road and Clarendon, three blocks south of St. Clair Avenue. Its ornate Romanesque architecture, with a lobby decorations by The Group of Seven’s J. E. H. MacDonald, is a testament to the skills and artistry of Baldwin and Greene.

The 12-storey Central Building was constructed of beige bricks, its north facade possessing only a few elements of Art Deco design. On the side of this facade, near the corners of the building, there were faux ancient hieroglyphs, which began on the 3rd floor and ascended to the 11th. The cornice at the top was exceedingly unornamented, but the sub-cornice below it, possessed a few interesting designs in the brickwork. However, these details were lost to those who strolled by on the sidewalks as they were too high to be seen on the narrow street where it was located. In contrast, the two-storey entrance on the ground floor was well ornamented and contained an impressive Roman arch. On the fifth floor, in a central position, was a rather odd looking bay window. There is no record of why this was included, but I assume that the room behind it had special significance, such as a board room or a chief executive’s office.    

The building was demolished to create a parking lot to accommodate the many cars that daily enter the city’s downtown core. I was unable to discover the date of the building’s demise, but it was likely in the 1940s or 1950s.

                           Fonds 444, Item 20

Entrance to the Central Building at 45 Richmond Street. The doors were recessed into the archway. Toronto Archives, S 044, Item 0020.

Fonds 444, Item 22

The generous use of marble, the decorative ceiling, and light fixtures reflect the best of the Art Deco period. Toronto Archives, F 044, Item 0022.

Map of 45 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H

      Location of the Central Building at 45 Richmond Street West.

Source: “Toronto Architecture, a City Guide,” by Patricia McHugh.

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/

Books by the Blog’s Author

Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” 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, published by History Press:

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

Book also available in most book stores such as Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox and AGO Book Shop. It can also be ordered by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)

                                 image_thumb6_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb[2]    

Another book on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It explores 81 theatres and contains over 125 archival photographs, with interesting anecdotes about these grand old theatres and their fascinating histories. Note: an article on this book was published in Toronto Life Magazine, October 2016 issue.

For a link to the article published by Toronto Life Magazine: torontolife.com/…/photos-old-cinemas-dougtaylortoronto-local-movie-theatres-of-y…

The book is available at local book stores throughout Toronto or for 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. It contains archival and modern photos that allow readers to compare scenes and discover how they have changed over the decades. 

Note: a review of this book was published in Spacing Magazine, October 2016. For a link to this review:

spacing.ca/toronto/2016/09/02/reading-list-toronto-then-and-now/

For further information on ordering this book, follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or contact the publisher directly by the link below:

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

 

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Toronto’s Yonge Street Arcade (demolished)

1885- pictures-r-1494[1]

      The Yonge Street Arcade in 1885, Toronto Public Library r- 1494

When the Yonge Street Arcade was built, it presented a revolutionary concept in the retailing history of Toronto. It was inspired by the 19th-century glass-roofed gallerias of Europe, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy, being one of the prime examples. By the 1880s, Toronto’s retail trade was increasingly dominated by three highly successful stores — the Golden Lion, Eaton’s, and Simpsons. Smaller merchants had difficulty competing as there were few downtown rental spaces that were affordable. The Canadian Loan and Investment Company realized that this presented an opportunity for a profitable enterprise. It purchased land on the east side on Yonge Street, at 131-139 Yonge Street, opposite Temperance Street. The site extended east from Yonge to Victoria Street, where its postal address was 18-26 Victoria Street.

On the land, they proposed erecting a shopping arcade with multiple small-sized retail spaces. Charles A. Walton, an architect born in Leeds, England, was hired to design the building. He created a four-story structure on Yonge Street, its facade of red bricks and Ohio sandstone. Similar to most 19th-century architecture, it contained classical ornamentation, including Corinthian pilasters (three-side columns). On the north and south ends of the facade facing Yonge Street, atop the fourth floor, there were small ornate towers, and a taller tower in the centre position. The enormous arched entranceway, two storeys in height, led to a galleria behind the four-storey structure.

The galleria, 267 feet in depth, was three storeys in height. The roof was crowned by a cast-iron frame that supported sheets of plate glass. It was 35 feet wide, and soared 120 feet above the ground floor. It flooded the interior with natural light, the building’s steam heating protecting shoppers from Toronto’s bitter winter weather. The galleria was similar in concept to the Eaton’s Centre and Brookfield Place of today, although the latter two have the benefit of air conditioning.

The Yonge Street Arcade was the first structure in Toronto that resembled a shopping mall, though it was much smaller than those of today. Construction commenced in 1882, and it was officially opened in the summer of 1884 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the city’s incorporation (1834-1884). The ground floor contained 32 shops. Wide staircases and hydraulic elevators permitted shoppers to access the second floor, where there were 20 more shops, connected by a balcony. On the third floor, there were artists’ studios and an assortment of offices. The shops were only 12 feet in width, although those on the first floor possessed full basements. The leases signed by the retailers stipulated that shops were not allowed to duplicate products and items that other merchants sold. This was to ensure as much variety as possible for shoppers.

I remember visiting the Yonge Street Arcade in the early 1950s as there was a philatelic (stamp) shop on the ground floor, near the Yonge Street entrance. I was an avid stamp collector at the time. Collecting stamps was a highly popular hobby in those years, as it provided an opportunity to collect authentic souvenirs from countries throughout the world. This hobby has now been eclipsed by more modern collectables, although philatelic shows still exist. 

By 1950, because the Arcade had not been well maintained, it was deteriorating. In 1953, there were two fires in the building, their causes never determined. In January 1954, merchants were ordered to vacate the premises. It was not demolished until 1955, when the site became a paved parking lot. In 1960, a ten-storey building was erected on the site. It contained retail shops on the ground floor, and above them, mainly offices. In 2008, vertical rows of LED light were installed on its west facade. 

It is a pity that Toronto lost this historic structure to the wrecker’s ball.

Sources: www.blogTo.com   torontoist.com  thenandnowblogspot.com  William Dendy, “Lost Toronto”

LRJ81SGL.png

Google map of the site of the Yonge Street Arcade on Yonge Street.

      1884- pictures-r-1520[1]

A booklet prepared for the official opening of the Arcade in 1884. Toronto Public Library, r- 1520

1885- pictures-r-1493[1]

Interior view of the Arcade in 1885. The gentlemen in the photo are standing on the balcony that connected the 20 shops on the second-floor level. On the ground floor, the Yonge Street entrance is visible at the mall’s west end. Toronto Public Library, r-1493.

Ont. Archives, 1911-1913- I0009549[1]

View looking north on Yonge Street from near Adelaide Street c. 1912. The four-storey Arcade building on Yonge Street is visible, and behind it, the cast-iron three-storey galleria with the glass roof. To the north, in the far upper left-hand corner of the photo, is the Confederation Life Building at Yonge and Richmond Streets, constructed on 1890.  Ontario Archives, 10009549.

btw, 1911-1913, Ont Archives I0009551[1]

The camera is pointed south on Yonge, from near Richmond Street, between the years 1911 and 1913. Ontario Archives, 10009551.

1952- pictures-r-1478[1]

View of the ground-floor level of the Arcade in 1952,Toronto Public Library r-1478.

1952- pictures-r-1480[1]

View of the ground-floor level of the Arcade in 1952, Toronto Public Library, r-1480

                           1952- pictures-r-1481[1]

View looking south on Yonge Street in 1952. Toronto Public Li8brary r-1481.

1952 - pictures-r-1484[1]

View of the Arcade, gazing east from Temperance Street in 1952. Toronto Public Library, r-1484.

DSCN0840

Gazing east on Temperance Street at the ten-storey building that was constructed on the site of the Yonge Street Arcade. On the left is the restored Dineen Building, on the northwest corner of Yonge and Temperance Streets. Photo taken on July 26, 2016.

DSCN0835

Gazing north on Yonge Street from Adelaide Street. The ten-storey white office building is on the site once occupied by the Yonge Street Arcade. The Confederation Life Building can be seen to the north of it. Photo taken July 26, 2016.

Photo of the Yonge Street Arcade taken by Luis Fernandes on October 8, 2010. View looks east on Temperance Street.

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 on theatres, published by Dundurn Press, 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 for 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. 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 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’ 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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Demolition of historic Westinghouse building

DSCN0568

The Westinghouse building on the southeast corner of Peter and King Street West is being demolished (April 2016), only the north and west facades being preserved and included in the new King Blue Condominium. The historic Westinghouse structure is one of the finest examples of the industrial buildings erected in Toronto’s downtown during the 1920s, a decade in which the city’s economy was booming. The Westinghouse building was constructed of steel and concrete, its symmetrical facades faced with red/brown bricks.

In the early-decades of the 19th century, King Street was Toronto’s fashionable shopping district, and as the city expanded westward, fine houses appeared. Among them was the lieutenant governor’s official residence (Government House) at King and John Streets. However, after the railway lines were built south of King Street, families began relocating northward, and sections of King Street slowly became industrial. The area was seen as advantageous for industry as it was close to the harbour and the railway lines for exporting and importing goods. By the 1870s and 1880s, many large factories and warehouses appeared on King Street. The Gurney Iron Foundry, west of Spadina, is one of the best examples. A few of the multi-colour brick buildings remain in existence today, recycled to contain a chic restaurant and several shops. Factories were also erected on King Street between Peter and John Street in the 1920s.

The Westinghouse building today has the postal address 355 King Street. However, even as late as the mid-1920s, the site contained four working-class homes, their postal numbers 349 to 355 King Street. It is likely those who lived in the houses were renting, as the occupants changed frequently. In 1920, at 349 King Street lived Lawrence Guay , at 351 King St. lived George Porter, at 353 King Street there was Peter Brady, a fireman working at the City Abattoir, and 355 King Street was the home of Frank Hopper, a labourer.

During the years ahead, the occupants of the houses continually changed. In 1927, at 349 King St. was Thomas MacWilliams. At 351 King St. was William Bannerman, a stationary engraver, while the houses at 353 King St. and 355 King St. were vacant. By the end of 1927, all the houses were vacant and soon demolished. In 1928, the City Directories reveal that where the fours houses had been located was the six-storey Canadian Westinghouse Company building, manufacturer of electrical equipment. The founder of the company was George Westinghouse.

King Street West, between University Avenue and Bathurst Street is now the main artery of the city’s Entertainment District. Many up-scale restaurants and clubs are located on this narrow street, which hums day and night. The TIFF Bell Lightbox has greatly enhanced the number of visitors to the area, and King Street is the centre of the annual Toronto Film Festival. Many people are desirous of living close to these exciting venues, causing condos to proliferate on King Street and the surrounding avenues.

When I read the reports in the press that the Westinghouse Building was to be incorporated into the high rise condo named “King Blue,” I incorrectly assumed that the structure would be preserved. I was deeply disappointed when I discovered that the building was to be demolished, only the west and north facades being retained. 

Series 1465, File 456, Item 1

View gazing east on King Street West between the years 1975-1992. The Westinghouse building is prominent of the right-hand (south) side of the street. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0456, Item 0001.

Series 1465, File 530, Item 20

The north and west facades of the Westinghouse building in 1982. Toronto Archives, S 1465, Fl 0530, Item 0002. 

Series 1465, File 51, Item 91

Gazing east on King Street West from west of Peter Street at the Westinghouse building in 1995. Toronto Archives, S1465, Fl 0051, Item 0091.

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                Gazing south on Peter Street toward King Street in 2015.

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    The north facade on King Street of the Westinghouse building in 2015. 

March, 2016

The building in March 2016, as it is prepared for demolition. View gazes east on King Street.

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Gazing west at the east facade of the Westinghouse building on April 26, 2016, as the demolition work proceeds. The steel supports on the north facade on King Street are visible.

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                         Demolition on the east facade of the building.

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Artist’s sketch of the King Blue Condominium, showing the old Westinghouse building as part of the complex. 

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                      The Westinghouse building during the summer of 2015.

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

   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 history.

                        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 on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

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

 

 

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Toronto’s Brunswick House (now closed)

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The Brunswick House, view gazing east along Bloor Street from west of Brunswick Avenue. 

The Brunswick House, a well-known icon of the Toronto pub scene for 140 years, closed on April 1, 2016. It was slated to shutter its doors the previous day, but due to the enormous crowds attracted by its closing, it remained open for an extra day. Its demise will be mourned by many university students, locals, and others attracted to this unconventional, lively pub. Located at 481 Bloor Street West, it was on the southeast corner of Brunswick Avenue and Bloor Street West.

The Brunswick Hotel was established in 1876, to the northwest of the city, its proprietor Benjamin Hinchcliffe. When it opened, horse-drawn streetcars had not yet appeared in the district, since on Bloor Street, between Yonge and Bathurst Street, there remained many open fields and empty building lots. To the west of Dufferin Street was mostly farmland, so the Bloor and Brunswick area was viewed as rather remote. Thus, the hotel’s patrons were mainly those who resided in the area or travellers who needed local accommodations.

The building was architecturally typical of buildings constructed during the final decades of the 19th century. However, the three-storey red-brick structure would have been impressive in its day, its heavy cornice displaying a degree of extravagance that was unusual in the working-class district where it was located. Above the cornice was an elaborate parapet that gave the appearance of added height. The large rectangular windows allowed much daylight to enter the interior in an era that lacked electric lighting.

In 1900, the hotel remained under the proprietorship of Benjamin Hinchcliffe and was known as a saloon for immigrants and workmen of the district. Hinchcliffe resided at 207 Borden Street, near the corner of Borden and Sussex Streets, not far from his place of business. In 1902, W. J. Davidson became the manager of the hotel, and in 1912 Joseph McLachlan assumed control. In 1920, Mrs. Catherine (Kate) Davidson became the proprietor, commencing a long period under her management. During her days at the hotel, it was penalized several times for serving beer that possessed too high an alcoholic content. In 1942, Mrs. Davidson changed its name to the Ye Olde Brunswick Hotel.

In 1961, the hotel was purchased by Morris and Albert Nightingale, two brothers who increased business at the establishment by hosting unusual events such as pickle-eating contests and a Mrs. Brunswick contest for older woman. The promotional stunts attracted many customers and sometimes the police, who were called when the crowds became rowdy. A large room on the second floor, the Albert Hall, became famous as a jazz venue in the 1980s. It is not clear when the hotel’s name was changed from Ye Olde Brunswick Hotel to the Brunswick House, but it continued to attract people of various lifestyles, and on one occasion a wedding was performed within it. 

In 2005, the hotel’s interior and exterior were extensively renovated. When it closed in April 2016, the long rows of wooden tables in the pub area on the first floor, the pool table, games, and the stage for dancing, all fell silent. Abbis Mahmoud was the manager at the time of its closing. It appears that a Rexall Drug Store will occupy the large space on the ground floor, although this has not been confirmed.

Note: Below is additional information provided by Dorothy Willis in an email after the post on the Brunswick House was published on this blog.

I read with interest your article on Toronto’s Brunswick House on your website Historic Toronto (May 2016).  It is sad to note the loss of this historical building.  It was designated a Heritage Property in 1991 but will this make any difference to its future?
Benjamin Hinchcliffe (1831 – 1911) was my great great grandfather. After arriving in Toronto in 1865 from Silkstone England, his first hotel was the St. Georges at the corner of Yonge and Richmond (Mitchell’s Directory 1866), followed by the Osgoode House at Queen and York Streets from 1870 until he became innkeeper of the hotel at the corner of Brunswick and Bloor (various city directories).
Benjamin received his tavern licence in 1876 from the License Commissioners (Daily Globe May 8, 1876).  That same year, according to the Assessment Roll for the Ward of St. Patrick, City of Toronto, he was the owner and occupier of the tavern.  There was also a driving shed and ballroom on the property.
I have been writing a book on my Hinchcliffe family. I appreciated your photos and descriptions of the Brunswick in your article since I had never been inside. May I quote your descriptions in my book?
Also I did not realize that Benjamin still owned the Brunswick until his death in 1911, “in 1912 Joseph McLachan assumed control.” I had not researched the hotel once I thought he had branched into real estate so thank you for that info.
I have attached an undated photo of Benjamin and copies of his obit and probate of his will. He did not trust banks so put his money into property.
I wanted to let you see the man behind the Brunswick. Thank you for bringing the history of the Brunswick Inn to the readers of Toronto.

Map of 481 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X9

        Location of the Brunswick House on Bloor Street West.

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The north facade (left-hand side) on Bloor Street, and west facade on Brunswick Avenue on April 2, 2016.

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      The hotel’s west facade on Brunswick Avenue, April 2016.

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The cornice on the Brunswick House in 2016. The dentil-like modillions (brackets) are beneath the large cornice that extends out over the street.

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                             Entrance to the Brunswick House.

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The pub area on April 2, 2016, the day after the Brunswick House closed.

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               The foyer inside the main door that led to the pub. 

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Interior of the pub, the day after the Brunswick House permanently closed.

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Staircase that led to the second floor, where the Albert Hall was once located.

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The space on the second floor remained open on the day after the Brunswick House permanently closed. This space was once the jazz venue known as the Albert Hall. 

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The west facade of the Brunswick House, facing Brunswick Avenue. Photo taken April 2, 2016.

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.

                        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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The Gordon House, Toronto’s lost mansion

c. 1900  pictures-r-5407[1]

The Gordon Mansion on Clarence Square (Toronto) in 1900. Toronto Public Library, r-5407

On the east side of Spadina Avenue, between Front and King Streets, there is a small green space named Clarence Square. During the early 19th century, it was part of the military reserve attached to Fort York. The square was laid out in the 1830s by British engineers to complement the lakeside promenade, a green area near the lake where citizens were able to enjoy strolling and picnicking during good weather. In those years, Lake Ontario was directly to the south of it. The shoreline was eventually pushed further south by dumping landfill into the harbour, so today, Clarence Square is isolated from the water. However, it remains a quiet retreat in the heart of the city, where mature trees provide shelter from the heat of the summer sun.

DSCN7044   s0372_ss0052_it0198[1]

Clarence Square in the spring of 2014 (left) and in 1913 (right). The right-hand photo is from Toronto Archives, S 0372, SS 0052, Item 0198.

Clarence Square is reminiscent of squares created in London, England during the 1820s. Referred to as Regency-style squares, they were generally enclosed on three sides by stylish homes, with one side facing a wide avenue. The green space within them was usually open to the public, although sometimes, particularly in Britain, it was private. Regent Square Gardens in central London is perhaps one of the best-known examples.

The design was promoted in Canada by amateur architects such as William Warren Baldwin. When Clarence Square was built, its counterpart in Toronto was Victoria Square (old Garrison Cemetery), on the west side of Spadina Avenue, at Portland Street. The squares were like bookends, with Wellington Place (now Wellington Street) in between. Wellington Place was viewed as an ideal site for grand mansions and stately homes as it was a wide tree-lined avenue. Clarence Square was nearby, so it too was deemed to be a prestigious location.

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            Clarence Square, in today’s Fashion District, Toronto

Clarence Square received its name from the third son of King George III, Prince William Henry, born in 1765. In 1789, he was granted the title Duke of Clarence and St. Andrew’s. The Duke served in the Royal Navy and became Admiral of the Fleet in 1811. The Duke of Clarence ascended the throne as King William IV, and died on June 20, 1837. This was the decade when Clarence Square was created by the British troops from Fort York. William IV was succeeded on the throne by his niece, Elizabeth Victoria, and the Victorian era began.

Because of the location of Clarence Square, for a few years it was viewed as a possible site for a new Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor, Queen Victoria’s representative in the province. However, about the year 1853, the square was no longer considered suitable for this purpose, so the land surrounding it was opened for development. John Gordon purchased property near the southeast corner of the square, and about the year 1874 built a palatial mansion. Its postal address was 303 Clarence Square. Gordon was businessman, born in Scotland in 1828, who arrived in Canada with his family in 1841. He became a partner in a wholesale importing company, and later, the president of the Toronto, Bruce and Grey Railway.

Gordon chose the architect John Browne to design his 2 1/2-storey residence. Browne decided on the Italianate style, with ornate trim and intricate classical detailing. The pediment on the north facade contained two gables. The heavy cornice below the roof was supported by large scrolled brackets (modillions). In the centre of the roof, at the summit, was  a structure referred to as a monitor, with its own roof that was parallel to the roof line of the house. The monitor contained windows that illuminated the central staircase located directly beneath it. The porch had two sets of narrow double columns, with arches above them, the columns supporting an impressive roof. The east and west facades of the house possessed rounded extensions with windows that allowed extra light into the interior, similar to the bay windows in Toronto’s Bay and Gable homes.

The mansion, near the southeast corner of the square, was an impressive sight. Its location added to its appeal since the mature trees and gardens in the square, as well as the ornate fountain in the square’s centre, created a setting that was almost rural, yet near the heart of the city.

Gordon lived in his mansion until 1879, when he departed Toronto to take up residency in Paris, France, where he died in 1882. He had retained ownership of the house while abroad, but after his death it was offered for sale. It remained empty for two years before it was purchased by his brother-in-law William Mortimer Clark. Clark maintained it as his residence until 1903. In that year he was appointed lieutenant governor of Ontario and moved to Government House at Simcoe Street and King Street West. When his term as lieutenant governor ended in 1908, he returned to his home on Clarence Square and lived there until 1912.

By this year, the area was no longer deemed prestigious due to the construction of CPR railway sidings on the land to the south of Front Street. In 1913, the Steele Briggs Seed Company purchased the property, demolished the house and erected a large warehouse on the site. 

TRL,   c. 1900  pictures-r-6486[1]

The Gordon House on Clarence Square c. 1900 (Toronto Public Library r-6486)

drawing room  pictures-r-6491[1] 

The drawing room in the Gordon House in 1912 (Toronto Public Library r-6489). The rounded shape from the exterior extensions provides extra depth and added light during daylight hours. The ornate plaster designs on the ceiling add dignity to a room that was already impressive. The large mirror above the marble mantel of the fireplace reflects the intricacy of the patterns on the ceiling

drawing room, 1912,  pictures-r-6490[1]

Drawing room in 1912, the year William Mortimer Clark departed the property. Toronto Public Library r- 6490

dining rom, 1912  pictures-r-6489[1]

Dining room of the Gordon home in 1912, Toronto Public Library, r-6489

drawing room, 1912  pictures-r-6488[1]

      Dining room in 1912, Toronto Public Library, r-6488

library. 1912  pictures-r-6493[1]

The library in the Gordon mansion in 1912, Toronto Public Library r- 6493

The north facade of the Steele Briggs Warehouse at 49 Spadina Avenue, which is today on the south side of Clarence Square, where the Gordon mansion once stood.

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_thumb

   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]_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 history.

                        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 on June 1, 2016. For further information follow the link to Amazon.com  here  or to contact the publisher directly:

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

 

 

 

Tags: , ,