2 queen street west toronto

Gorgeous Toronto landmark reappears after five years hidden under wraps

An almost 130-year-old Toronto landmark has been restored to its former glory after five years hidden away from public eyes under construction netting.

The building at 2 Queen Street West, occupying the southeast edge of the Eaton Centre complex, is now being revealed for the first time since the restoration of its 1885 facades began back in 2017.

2 queen street west toronto

Property owner Cadillac Fairview has had the building hidden from view for years as a restoration led by heritage architects ERA repairs generations of damage to the original building's Victoria-era design, and a new glassy addition designed by Zeidler Architecture is built atop.

2 queen street west torontoBefore the tarps went up in 2018, the building was most recently home to Atmosphere, the latest in a succession of tenants going back over 12 decades.

2 queen street west toronto

Originally home to the Philip Jamieson Clothing Company upon its late-19th-century completion, the building was initially known as the Jamieson Building. However, it has been named for most of its lifespan after its longest-tenured tenant, known as the F. W. Woolworth Building for the company that called it home from 1913 until the 1990s.

2 queen street west toronto

Decades of ownership changes have come with unfortunate modifications to the building's exterior, which ERA has spent the last few years working hard to reverse.

Alterations to the building in 1915, 1934, 1954, and again in the late 1980s, slowly chipped away at the original aesthetic established by Curry, Baker and Company Architects all those years ago. The most drastic changes came in the 1960s under Woolworth's ownership, when metal panels covered up large sections of the original exterior.

A detailed history of the building's exterior changes is covered in a 2017 article from when the major restoration project was announced.

Passersby got their first glimpse of the newly-restored facade, parts of which have been unseen by the public since they were largely covered up by Woolworth's in the mid-20th century.

2 queen street west toronto

Construction netting started to come down several days ago, and as of Wednesday, a large section is once again visible from the corner of Yonge and Queen.

2 queen street west toronto

Above the restored heritage facades, the building's square footage has been increased through three added floors, with two office levels and a third floor above that will eventually feature a restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking the Yonge and Queen intersection.

2 queen street west toronto

The reveal comes just two months after a fire ripped through the construction site, apparently causing minor damage mostly limited to the scaffold and exterior coverings on the outside of the structure.

Once completed, 2 Queen West will be better integrated into the Eaton Centre, while preserving its architecture for a new generation of shoppers to enjoy in the commercial heart of Toronto.

The restoration and addition project at 2 Queen West is not unlike a similar job carried out blocks away a decade earlier when the Dineen Building at Yonge and Temperance was placed under wraps for years while workers restored it to its original look and added new real estate above.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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