2 queen street west toronto

Breathtaking Toronto landmark fully revealed after years hidden away from public

A Toronto landmark looks brand-new after six years of restoration, and you'd never know this majestic old building was almost 130 years old.

Passersby got their first glimpse of 2 Queen Street West in years last summer when protective tarps were removed, revealing the building's 1885 facades for the first time since they went under wraps in 2017.

The rest of the coverings have since been removed as work continues on the restored building and a modern three-storey addition constructed above, soon to be reintegrated into property owner Cadillac Fairview's surrounding Eaton Centre.

In the years it was under wraps, the building's exterior facades underwent an extensive restoration led by heritage architects ERA.

2 queen street west toronto

This process undid generations of damage and unsympathetic additions to the original building's Victorian-era design, pairing the restoration with construction of a new glassy addition designed by Zeidler Architecture atop the four-storey heritage building.

2 queen street west toronto

The structure was originally built for the Philip Jamieson Clothing Company 129 years ago, a name that has since been restored atop the building's main entrance.

2 queen street west toronto

Though initially referred to as the Jamieson Building upon its opening in the late 19th century, it spent much of its existence 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 subsequent ownership changes saw modifications to the exterior that gradually moved the building further away from the initial design.

Every few decades, news owners would step in and leave their own mark on the property, rarely for better and usually for worse.

2 queen street west toronto

Alterations came in 1915, 1934, 1954 and again in the late 1980s, slowly chipping away at the original design from Curry, Baker and Company Architects. Perhaps the worst change came in the 1960s, when Woolworth's installed metal panels over large sections of the original exterior — a modification that remained in place until the current restoration began.

2 queen street west toronto

A thorough history of the building's decades of unfortunate exterior changes is covered in detail in a 2017 article from when the major restoration project was first announced.

2 queen street west toronto

Current photos of the restored building come almost exactly one year after a fire ripped through the construction site causing minor damage mostly limited to the scaffold and exterior coverings on the outside of the structure.

The project follows a similar template as another heritage restoration and addition completed a few blocks away a decade earlier. Locals were similarly surprised by the reveal of the restored Dineen Building at Yonge and Temperance after it was placed under wraps for years for a major glow-up.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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