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Should these Toronto buildings be heritage properties?

Posted by Robyn Urback / November 2, 2012

toronto heritage propertiesHeritage designation can sometimes be a contentious issue — say, when a man wants to amend a structure to accommodate his disabled wife, or when a suspicious fire brings down a building poised for costly renovations. But before the arson and neighbourhood outrage, structures have to be brought before council to assess the appropriateness of heritage designation. New (old) buildings are constantly put forth for review, including these three latest Toronto properties.

toronto heritage structuresADRESS: 20 Maitland Street
ORIGINAL OWNER: William/Mary Ann Sharpe
HISTORY: Records show the site was owned by William Sharpe; a man who was described as a "gentleman" in documents, in case you were wondering. 20 Maitland was constructed as the west half of a pair of semi-detached homes, the east of which was demolished back in the 1960s. The Elizabeth Fry Society of Toronto took over 20 Maitland in 1960 and operated a home for released female prisoners. The building was sold seven years later.
WORTHY OF HERITAGE DESIGNATION? It's certainly better than another antiseptic-looking glass condo tower. That said, it does seem a fairly unremarkable building in terms of Victorian aesthetic and style. It's old, yes, but is that enough?

toronto heritage structuresADRESS: 296 Broadview Avenue
ORIGINAL OWNER: Broadview Avenue Congressional Church
HISTORY: Designed by celebrated Toronto architect E. J. Lennox (the man behind Casa Loma and Old City Hall), 296 Broadview was valued at $6,000 back in 1896. Yeah, I'd take on that mortgage. The structure has housed a series of congregations including the Broadview Avenue Free Methodist Church and the Broadview Faith Temple. The interior was renovated in 1932 after a fire.
WORTHY OF HERITAGE DESIGNATION? The structure is representative of neo-gothic style with a pitched gable roof, pointed arched windows, and mock timbering. In other words, perfect for another money-making condo development.

toronto heritage structuresADRESS: 19 St. Leonard's Avenue
HISTORY: This property was owned and occupied by Sydney Hessin until 1928, when Alfred P. Brown took over as occupant. The plans for the property were originally prepared by Scottish-trained architect James Mitchell, and plans for a south extension was filed in 1982.
WORTHY OF HERITAGE DESIGNATION? Lawrence Park residents concerned about redevelopment have brought this property forward for evaluation. While that chimney looks mighty fine, the rest seems just...a house. What am I missing?

What do you think? Should these structures be heritage properties? Add your comments to the thread below.



old mold / November 2, 2012 at 09:19 am
"It's old, yes, but is that enough?"

Yes. That applies to all 3.

Old Montreal is spectacular because they give a shit.

Toronto is just shit.
The Real Johnson replying to a comment from old mold / November 2, 2012 at 09:30 am
That must be why you spend your time reading and commenting on blogMTL...oh, wait.
Pk / November 2, 2012 at 09:37 am
just... a house. A gracious, well-built mature home in proper scale with it's lot. A rare thing, indeed. Worth preserving.
Grant / November 2, 2012 at 09:40 am
NRU - North York community council report Request for heritage applications—Three reports conclude that 19 St. Leonard’s Avenue, 102 Wanless Avenue and 105 Golfdale Road should not be included as designated heritage buildings in the City of Toronto inventory of heritage properties or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.19
old mold replying to a comment from The Real Johnson / November 2, 2012 at 09:42 am
Well, I certainly wouldn't spend time on some lame regurgitator site that looks like it's from 2004.
EricM replying to a comment from old mold / November 2, 2012 at 09:51 am
Enjoy the falling down pile of rubble that is Montreal. There is probably a case to be made for putting up a stature of René Lévesque in Toronto as it started the end there and the start here... of course Montreal would have to send us a crane. Ours are all busy at the moment. ;)
Rick / November 2, 2012 at 10:05 am
I fail to see any historical value in any of these buildings.
Demolish and rebuild is thats what is wanted.

However it is alway nice to see the old building facade kept as new additions are build around or ontop of it.
Ben / November 2, 2012 at 10:09 am
No, yes, no, no.
Al / November 2, 2012 at 11:20 am
No to all of them. Toronto is a city not a museum. Montreal can wallow in the past while we pass them by. There are some buildings worthy of protection, but none of these are of historic or architectural significance.
Welshgrrl replying to a comment from old mold / November 2, 2012 at 11:32 am
.. and yet here you are ...
Matt replying to a comment from Al / November 2, 2012 at 11:40 am
If you've been to Montreal lately, you might realize that the city isn't exactly wallowing. There's more to the quality of urban life than how your economy stacks up to other cities, or many high-rises are under construction. (Montreal, btw, has lots.)
ChristieLea / November 2, 2012 at 01:02 pm
At this point, I'd rather see even unremarkable old buildings saved if it means one less condo tower.
milo / November 2, 2012 at 01:21 pm
i want to live in a progressive modern city - tear this shit down
Adam Sobolak / November 2, 2012 at 10:33 pm
Look at it this way: there wouldn't be such "gravity" looming over these properties if Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties were more nuanced, i.e. with a deeper graded judgment of properties than mere one-size-fits-all "designations" or "listings". I mean, there's a reasonable argument to be made on behalf of retaining all three--but not to the point of hysteria. And even if the grass *seems* greener from here, NYC or Montreal aren't really that much more "enlightened" re properties of this grade than we are.

And the Lawrence Park house would really make more sense were it part of a Heritage Conservation District (whick isn't a half bad idea) than as a standalone.
Lauren / November 2, 2012 at 11:20 pm
My family is currently dealing with the issue of making changes to a heritage home to accommodate my disabled mother.

On the one hand, it would make our lives all a lot easier.

On the other hand, my parents--including my mother, who's life it would make easier--want to maintain the integrity of the home. The house has been in our family for 50 years and making structural changes would be heartbreaking.

There should be certain allowances made for special situations but as someone in that situation, I am on the side of heritage.
Aaron / November 3, 2012 at 04:26 am
Who cares any more? Turn everything into a craptastic condo and walk from podium to podium, nail clinic to nail clinic.
Aaron / November 3, 2012 at 04:39 am
But yeah, by all means keep the shitty wooden hydro poles and wires hanging everywhere. Maintain the 3rd world, frontier town streetscape/shitscape while ditching the buildings. Toronto style.. the rest of the world has yet to catch on!
seanm replying to a comment from milo / November 3, 2012 at 05:06 pm
What's progressive about generic high rise condo towers with boring antiseptic retail?

Progressive cities embrace their past and allow for adaptive commercial use to revitalize historic structures. There's room for new as well, but we need to strive for higher quality buildings and focus on building out the parking lots and empty space first.
Joo / November 5, 2012 at 06:11 pm
shall we take bets on which will be the first to burn down?
Other Cities: Montreal