The Little Yellow House Takes its Last Bow

A couple of months ago I included the picture above, of the little yellow house in my monthly Bits and Pieces post here and many of you seemed interested in what was happening to it. (It is located at 618 Richmond Street just east of Bathurst.)

Built in around 1870, this house would have been one of the first buildings in the area and would have stood alone surrounded by open land. This was when the streets were still dirt roads, and a good 30 years before cars were introduced. Running water had just begun flowing as it was being built, but it would be decades before there would be electricity here. The now busy intersection just to the north of it, Queen and Bathurst, wasn’t developed until about 30 years later, in the early 1900s.

In 1876 the little house was registered as having been the home of a Miss Mary Franklin, who was a school-teacher.

(I discovered that thanks to the research of a Toronto historian whose blog I like, called ‘Taylor on History’. He photographs and researches all kinds of old places in the city and his post about this particular house is here.)

While the house was built on the very edge of the more developed part of Toronto, it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, because there was a market square located within an easy walk, to the east (beside the park at Brant Street and Adelaide Avenue West today). And, I’ve read there was a school there, too, which is where I imagine Mary would have taught. She certainly would have been quite the modern woman at the time, living on her own in that little house.  I think school teachers had to be unmarried ladies back then but I’m not 100% sure of that.

The saying ‘if walls could talk’ comes to play where this building is concerned, as it would have many stories to tell about change. Neighbouring houses were replaced with ones built side-by-side, creating a tight row. I wonder how whoever owned it at the time, felt when a 6 story ‘tower’ was built right up next to the house, in the 40s or so.

When I posted this picture below of the house in early January I mentioned that it and its neighbours to the east were going to be torn down to make room for a new condo tower.



↑ This is a shot I took last year that gives you a feel for where the yellow house is. (The corner to the north (where the streetcars are, is Bathurst and Queen W.) ↑

I’ve watched over the past few years as these houses were put up for sale separately and they must have eventually all been bought by the same developer. And now the time has come to get started on the new building. These pictures taken on Monday are proof that the demolition is imminent.






The yellow house was all shut up when I was there but I took a little peek into the house next door. There were workers inside getting it ready to be torn down.



While I was there I popped around to the back to take some shots. I walked along this alley, pictured below, to get there. The houses are just past the building to the right.


There was a crew there getting things ready for demolition. As I watched, shovel-fulls of debris were being tossed out of a window. A friendly guy managing the job was just pulling up and we talked a bit. He seemed interested to hear about the history of the area. Having images of glass-doorknobs and old light fixtures, I asked him what the yellow house was like inside. He said it was a dump and anything of beauty had long been replaced by Ikea crap (his words, lol). Another thing he told me was that there was no way that anyone would be allowed to build separate houses jammed tightly together like that today.



↑ That’s the back of the yellow house. It looks like an addition had been put onto it over the years. ↑

To give you a better sense of how old this house is, I found some pictures of other locations in the neighbourhood …


↑ This painting was done at the same time that the yellow house was built. It is of another home located about a 25 minute walk to the north. ↑


↑ This factory, photographed the same year the yellow house was built, was on King Street West, just to the south east of it, under a 10 minute walk away. This building is still there and is beautiful. You can see that another small house was right beside the factory.  That one is now long gone. ↑


↑ This bar (public house) photographed 19 years after the yellow house was built, was located on the same street, about a 20 minute walk to the east. Whoever lived there at the time probably had a drink at this establishment. ↑

It is sad to see the little yellow house taken down, but for a wooden structure built so long ago, it has had a long life. I wonder if the old tree out front will be chopped down. I’ll keep my eyes on it and let you know.  Follow up : In deed, it was felled.

Thanks a lot for dropping over. Hope you’re having a good Thursday. All is well here and we’re looking forward to dinner out with some friends tonight.
xo loulou