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Tag Archives: King Street West

Toronto’s architectural gems—historic St. Andrew’s on King St.

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St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 189 King Street West, on the southeast corner of King and Simcoe, is today nestled among the high-rise towers of Toronto’s busy downtown core. When it was built, the city was expanding westward and the area around the church was a fashionable residential district, although there remained a few open fields along some sections of the street. The official residence of the lieutenant governor, the vice-regal representative of Queen Victoria, resided in a magnificent mansion across the street from St. Andrew’s, on the southwest corner of the intersection of King and Simcoe Streets. On the northwest corner were the grounds of the prestigious Upper Canada College.

The congregation of St. Andrew’s had been created in 1830, and they  built the first church on  the southwest corner of Church and Adelaide Streets. When this building became too small for the size of the congregation, they sought a site for a larger building. They chose William George Storm as the architect, who had been born in England, but immigrated to Canada the same year that the parish of St. Andrew’s was created. In 1867, Storm had designed the wrought iron fence that today surrounds Osgoode Hall at Queen Street and University Avenue. As well, he was the architect of Victoria College on the campus of the University of Toronto. 

The congregation of St. Andrew’s purchased land on King Street and construction of the new church commenced in 1874. Storm chose the Romanesque Revival style, and designed three large solid towers on the structure, the largest of them facing Simcoe Street. It overlooked Government House, the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Province.  This tower contained small decorative turrets on each of its four corners, as well as large parapets between the mini-towers. The north facade, facing King Street, possessed two towers, with heavy stone ornamentation at the top of each. The church was solid and formal, designed to resemble those built in Mediaeval Scotland. The expansive walls were constructed of Georgetown sandstone, as solid as any ancient castle found in the Scotland of old. It required two years to complete the church, but it was finally dedicated on February 13, 1876. Later, an elaborate chancel was added to the structure. Eric Arthur in his book, “Toronto—No Mean City” stated that St. Andrew’s, as an example of the “picturesque,” had no equal in Toronto.

During the year ahead, St. Andrew’s prospered and grew  into one of the most influential church congregations in Toronto. In the modern era, it has continued to be meaningful by adapting to the problems of being located in an area with some of the most expensive real estate prices in the city. It has raised funds to finance its many programs. The Sun Life Centre, across the street, on the north side of King Street, purchased the “air rights” of the church, which allowed the company to built an office tower on the north side of King Street that was higher than the laws at the time would have allowed. In another deal, the church sold the rights for the space below the church, as well as the air rights surrounding its manse on Simcoe Street. The developer dug under St. Andrew’s, shored up the church structure, and built a 25-storey condominium at the rear of the manse. Today, it towers above the manse, directly across the road from the entrance to the Roy Thomson Hall. 

                            1830 church- Church and Adelaide

The St. Andrew’s Church built in 1830 on the southwest corner of Church and Adelaide Streets (photo from the book “No Mean City” by Eric Arthur). 

       Fonds 1244, Item 7033

    St. Andrew’s Church in 1907, Toronto Archives, F.1244, It.7033

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North side of the church in March 2013, showing the symmetrical facade facing King Street West. The light from the windows of the Sun Life Centre across the street is reflecting from the stones.

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Top of the tower on the northeast corner of the church. This picture was taken following the restoration work on the tower.

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King Street entrances, with the Romanesque arches above the doorways (March 2013).

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The manse of St. Andrew’s, on Simcoe Street, to the south of the church. The condominium Symphony Place is built around the house. The manse is in the Second Empire style, with a Mansard roof.

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The massive tower on the west side, with its min-turrets and parapet between them.

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This picture from the City of Toronto Archives was taken in the 1970s, prior to the construction of Roy Thomson Hall. The land that was once the site of the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario became a CPR yard. It was cleared to facilitate the construction of the Roy Thomson Hall. The manse of the church is not yet surrounded by the condo, Symphony Place. 

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        The same site as the previous photo, in the autumn of 2012

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The beautiful interior of the church on a quiet weekday afternoon. The rich wood, handsomely carved, creates a peaceful atmosphere for worship.

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                                                   The chancel of the church

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                          One of the beautiful stained glass windows.

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                                      The immense organ loft

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The east facade facing Emily Street and the north facade of the church on King St. West (March 2013).

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

To view previous blogs about 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. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of 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 Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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), the Photodrome, 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

 

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Atelier Cafe Lounge in the Gurney Stove Foundry at King and Brant streets.

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Today I had lunch at Atelier Cafe Lounge on King Street West, located within the building that once housed the nineteenth-century Gurney Stove Foundry. Atelier is a one-of-a-kind cafe, with cozy atmosphere and a unique setting, an ideal place to enjoy a cappuccino or latte and a sandwich. The wallpaper in the cafe remains from the days when the space was a private club. The owners are proud to point out that the wallpaper is a signature feature of the cafe. It is a nineteenth-century pattern, and was popular in the days when the stove foundry was built, even though it would have been out of place in an industrial complex.

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         Interior of the Atelier Cafe Lounge  and its signature wallpaper                   

Gazing at the well-worn oak floors and the massive beams of old-growth pine within the cafe, as I sipped on my coffee, I thought of the history contained within the walls of this magnificent old structure. The following section is from the book “The Villages Within”, and tells about the history of the Gurney Stove Foundry.

The Gurney Stove Foundry, 500–522 King Street, Northeast Corner of King and Brant Streets

The magnificent Victorian buildings, constructed of red and yellow brick, are among the oldest industrial structures in the city. The building on the east (closest to Spadina) is the oldest. With a history that spans almost a century and a half, the E. C. Gurney Company, originated in Hamilton, Ontario. Edward and Charles Gurney manufactured stoves and general castings. When business expanded, the Gurney brothers opened a retail store in Toronto at 91 Yonge Street. Edward Gurney Junior relocated to Toronto to manage the family business in the provincial capital, purchasing a residence at 209 Jarvis Street for his family.

During the 1870s, much of the land along King Street West was vacant, although it was privately owned. Children in the area ran freely in the fields, kicking a ball and shouting to friends to join in their game. In autumn, the grasshoppers flew in clouds as the children raced along the paths among the fields. In winter, they built snow forts, engaged in snowball fights, and employed creative cursing when they received a direct hit in the face. However, it was soon to change, as the natural playground was to be buried beneath an enormous industrial complex.

Intending to build a factory in Toronto, in 1872, the Gurney Company bought several of the lots on King, west of Spadina, and erected a four-storey building. Located on the east side of the property, its brick walls were particularly attractive, especially the yellow-brick designs above the windows and the yellow-brick pilasters (fake columns) that commenced at the ground level and rose to the top of the building. In 1872, the postal address of the factory was 356 King Street, but today it is 500–510 King Street West. They also constructed more buildings to the north of the King Street structures, but they have not survived into the modern era.

When  the building opened, which today has the postal address 500-510 King Street, a newspaper advertisement stated, “Gurney Stove Foundry, manufacturing agent for the famed Buttan Heater.”

The business expanded and in 1887 they constructed a three-storey building to the west of the original site. Its address today is 522 King Street. A narrow laneway separated the two structures. During the following years, other buildings appeared to the north of the original two, but these have since been demolished.

The buildings deteriorated throughout the years ahead and their attractive facades were covered with a tin siding. In the modern era, when its owners decided to restore the buildings, they removed the tin, revealing the attractive brickwork. It now appears as it did in yesteryear. During the restoration, they replaced the cornices on both structures with metal trim.

In the laneway between the two surviving buildings on King Street, they erected a connecting passageway at the second and third-floor levels. Thankfully, it matches the two existing buildings. Today, multiple tenants are located within. With its polished original oak floors and massive wood beams of old-growth Canadian pine, it possesses some of the most handsome nineteenth-century rental spaces in the city.

Viewing these restored buildings today, it is difficult to imagine them being a part of a bustling, sooty, industrial complex, with hundreds of workers labouring in hot, fetid conditions to tend the furnaces, shovelling coal to keep the fires alive. It was an era when workers possessed few rights. Wages were poor and hours were long, usually nine or ten hours a day, six days a week. Lung disease and work-related illnesses were common.

To the modern eye, these factories appear pristine and quaint, their patterned brickwork attractive to behold. The massive pine pillars, visible through the windows of the storefronts, inspire awe. No trees remain in Ontario to obtain such magnificent giants ever again.

No trace remains of the hardworking labourers who once worked on these premises. Evidence of their joys and sorrows has long departed the scene. Only the rattle of the streetcars on the street or the shout of a truck driver remind us of earlier days, when this was a busy industrial complex. The past has departed forever, but evidence of earlier days remains through the presence of these attractive historic buildings.

Nineteenth-Century Pine Beams in the old Gurney Iron Foundry

Photographs below are of the interior of “Patagonia,” a stylish clothing store within the Gurney Stove Foundry,at 500 King St. West.

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Attractive yellow and red brickwork on the facade of the Gurney Iron Foundry

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

To view previous blogs about 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. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It relates anecdotes and stories of 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 Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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), the Photodrome, 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

 

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