The top 10 buildings lost to demolition in Toronto
The top 10 buildings lost to demolition in Toronto is surely a strange title. In that these buildings no longer exist, the "top" serves the double function of referring to the merits of these former structures and the tragedy that was their demolition. And tragedy isn't really too strong a word. Toronto would be certainly a better place if these and many of the other buildings that were often rather carelessly destroyed remained vital pieces of our urban environment. But, for reasons that I've never fully made sense of, the city planners of the 1960s and 70s had virtually no historic sense, and numerous buildings of great significance were destroyed in favour of bland structures of little consequence or, unconscionably, parking lots.
Here are the 10 lost buildings that I "miss" the most.
The Temple Building
What exists there now: Queen-Bay Centre
Why it's missed: Aside from being the tallest building in Toronto upon its completion, it was a lovely Romanesque counterpart to nearby Old City Hall.
Trinity College (original)
What exists there now: Trinity Bellwoods Park, though the original gate and women's residence still stand, the latter as a retirement home.
Why it's missed: Designed by Kivas Tully, the building was an excellent example of Gothic-Revival architecture.
What exists there now: Provincial Court House (University Avenue)
Why it's missed: Thomas Fuller's Romanesque masterpiece was not only the largest armoury in Canada, but just look at what replaced it.
The Board of Trade Building
What exists there now: EDS Building
Why it's missed: Originally occupied both both the Board of Trade and the TTC, the rounded building would be the perfect companion of the still-standing Flatiron building a couple streets away.
Built: 1915 (started in 1911)
What exists there now: Parkland
Why it's missed: Chorley Park was the fourth and last official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Modeled after the chateaux of the Loire Valley, the opulent building was closed in 1937 due to the high cost -- paid for by taxpayers -- required to maintain the building. After stints as a military hospital in WWII and and subsequently as offices of the RCMP, Mayor Nathan Phillips acquired the building in 1960, which would have cost a significant amount to restore, with the intention of demolishing it. Still, without any replacement other than parkland, it seems a sad waste to lose such a beautiful building.
Union Station II
What exists there now: Citigroup Place (and a rather anonymous brick building)
Why it's missed: As wonderful as the current Union Station is, think of what it'd be like to have the previous iteration of the station preserved and used for another purpose.
Grand Opera House
What exists there now: Scotia Plaza
Why it's missed: A fabulous Second Empire-style building with an an intriguing history courtesy of one-time owner Ambrose Small, the millionaire that one day up and vanished, nothing like it remains in Toronto.
The original Toronto Star Building
What exists there now: First Canadian Place
Why it's missed: Designed by Chapman and Oxley, it was one of Toronto's finest examples of Art Deco architecture.
What exists there now: Carlton Tower
Why it's missed: Despite its short life span, the 2300 seat theatre, with its curved marquee was everything a cinema should be (and nothing what they look like today).
Sam the Record Man
What exists there now: Rubble, but Ryerson University will be building on the site shortly.
Why it's missed: Although not an architectural marvel, Sam's nevertheless was a Toronto icon. And while the neon sign may one day return in some capacity, it'll never be the same.
Here is a Google map of the approximate locations of these buildings.
Photos from the Wikimedia Commons and the City of Toronto Archives with the exception of the last, which is by spotmaticfanatic in the blogTO Flickr pool.