The Condo Market Gets Another History Lesson
Another beautiful and historical work of architecture in Toronto is set to join the swelling ranks of the condo market. The Toronto City Council plans to make the Victoria-Royce Presbyterian Church located at 152 Annette Street, in the Junction, an Ontario Heritage Site. History buffs are likely to be disappointed, as the building is scheduled to be transformed into lofts.
The building dates back to 1892 when it was constructed by architects Wilm Knox and John Elliot to house the congregation of the West Toronto Junction Presbyterian Church. After the construction of the church, it was renamed the Victoria Presbyterian Church in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The church was closed in June 2006.
The church is one of a number of heritage sites/churches housed in the neighbourhood. Among the group, three are also included in the city's heritage inventory - including Keele Street Church of Christ (1890) at 99 Annette, Annette Street Baptist Church (1888) at 200 Annette, and High Park-Alhambra United Church (1908) at 260 High Park Avenue.
But sadly, the 'condofication' of the Victoria-Royce Presbyterian Church is becoming a common story. The Centenniel United Church - just south of Bloor on Dovercourt Road--is also being flipped into condos. It's the same story for the Abbey lofts, formerly the Howard Park Methodist Church, in the Roncesvalles/High Park neighbourhood.
Churches aren't alone in suffering the fate of condo developers, as an increasing number of sites across the city are being taken over by the real estate sector. Just take a walk through the Distillery District and you'll see a number of new condos. Or head south to Liberty Village and visit the Toy Factory Lofts, made from a building constructed around the turn of the century.
Some enthusiasts call it progress, claiming that turning a heritage or historical site into a condo can actually preserve the character of the building and its neighbourhood. But I don't buy it. I'd rather see the buildings refitted for community centers and neighbourhood museums. This would both preserve the character of the neighbourhood, while allowing members of the public to take in a bit of the city's history.
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