A Beautiful Building Bites the Dust

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The number of cranes overhead, plywood tunnels enclosing sections of mucky and broken sidewalk, and noisy construction trucks everywhere, are clear indication that we’re in the middle of a massive building boom in Toronto right now. There seems to be a new condo building going up on every block.

I have to assume that careful analysis has preceded all this new development and that city planners are monitoring what is going on, so, for the most part I support it. I want to live in a city that is vibrant and exciting, and understand that it takes people and places for them to live to achieve this.

Being a lover of history and vintage things though, it always pains me to see one of our old buildings torn down to make room for the new. Today I write about one such victim, a grand old dame of a structure that I wish could have been saved.

Last summer, luckily, I took some pictures of this three story brick building located on the south-east corner of Bathurst and Niagara Streets, in the belief that I was capturing what would become the “before” pictures for a post about its restoration. What led me to think that it was set to receive some loving attention was a sign I saw in an adjacent lot, stating that a Farmers Market would be opening where it stood. I envisioned something charming like the St. Lawrence Market, over here on the west side of the city, housed within some beautifully restored red brick walls. No doubt, I was looking forward to seeing that happen.

So, you can imagine my shock upon passing the corner not long ago, to find that the building had been obliterated — completely gone with no sign that it had ever been there. There isn’t even a whisper from its ghost on the internet …. well, until now, that is.

Considering the age of a couple of other buildings located a very short distance away, that very much appear to have been built in the same era, I estimate that this one was built in 1899 or 1900, making it over 115 years old. Granted, this might be considered young in most major cities around the world, but Toronto is a relatively new city, so anything over 100 years stands out as being old.

The other buildings I compared it to age-wise are this one, located just to the west on Niagara Street, built by The National Casket Company in the late 1890s, and one located a block to the north at 49 Bathurst Street, built in 1900 by The American Hat Frame Company, photographed at the end of the post. Both have been classified as heritage properties and are therefore protected from demolition, but it seems nobody was looking out for this one.

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↑ Formerly at 37 Bathurst Street at Niagara, Toronto – Summer 2015. ↑

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↑ The sign that made me think the building was going to be restored. It points to the building and says there will be a Farmers’ Market there. ↑

I guess those pictures are, in fact, “before” photos after all, except they go along with some less appealing “after” photos …

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↑ And then it was gone – Summer 2016. ↑

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What could have been …

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↑ This restored building is one block north and was built at the same time as the one that was torn down was. ↑

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With this post, I don’t want to give the impression that the old buildings in Toronto are being knocked down without a care, because, while this one was taken down, there are also some great examples in the city of developments that incorporate parts of the old structures right into the new ones and of some beautiful restorations. I plan to get shots of some of them soon, as there are some really good ones around.

Thanks for visiting,
xo loulou

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