The Old Toronto Star Building. Status: Destroyed.

Does this building look familiar? Built in the 1930’s and destroyed in 1972 this unbelievably beautiful building once stood proudly where the First Canadian Place (BMO Tower) now sits. We at Spring Realty are normally proponents of development. We generally believe that the benefit of development outweighs the short term inconveniences that go hand in hand with major construction. However, when I come across a story like this, I can’t help but hang my head in shame. Granted, the FCP Tower is nearly 3X larger and is at full capacity employing thousands of people and that is likely the only bright light in this sad story.

Overall, Toronto is doing a better job of protecting our heritage buildings but builders need to consider more than just simple Facadism (when they just keep the “face” of the building and demo the rest). The proposed development 71-95 King St originally wanted to destroy the entire block (I would have chained myself to the building in protest if that was the case) but as you can see from the development proposal, they intend to keep them and add 47 Stories above. Not a fan of the project yet but at least the heritage is being protected (or so we hope. Fingers crossed).

Do you know of any buildings that you think should be, or should have been preserved? Would love to read your comments. If you have photos, even better!

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Footage of Toronto’s Great Fire of 1904

Many people blame the big bad developer for the loss of Toronto’s original buildings. Of course there have been many buildings brought down to make way for “progress” but it’s important to understand that The Great Fire of 1904 essentially gutted the Financial Core. The destruction was wide spread and destroyed dozens of buildings only sparing 12 near the corner of Yonge and Wellington. Many facades were saved and incorporated into today’s buildings.

Until this week I had not idea this footage existed. I’ve seen photos and read stories but this is just amazing. There is actually Toronto Archive footage of the great fire. You can see the first responders in their horse drawn fire trucks, then the raging fire, followed by the demolition of the ravaged buildings.

Here are a few images from April of 1904.




 



 

 

 

 

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19th Century lives on at The Campbell House

One of my favorite buildings in Toronto is The Campbell House. Not only for it’s simple yet stunning architecture but the story is an interesting one too.

The Campbell House was originally built by Chief Justice Sir William Campbell and his wife Hannah in 1822. Over the years the property changed hands a couple of times and ended up in the hands of the Hallmark Greeting Cards Company. In 1972, these savages decided that it would be a great idea to demolish this gem in order to extend their parking lot.

At least they had some sense and offered the home to anyone who would be willing to take it and move it. Along came the Advocates’ Society, a group of trial lawyers. They managed to stir up enough attention to save the property from demolition. The Campbell house once stood proudly at the foot of Frederick St and Adelaide and has now settled at Queen and University.

The Campbell House serves as a club house for the Advocates’ Society (rightfully so), provides space for special functions, and offers a museum which frequently displays works from the Group of Seven. Want to take a look inside? This home is usually opened up during Doors Open Toronto in May each year but if you’re in a rush you can book a tour anytime by visiting The Campbell House website. Take a look at this photo of the home being moved. Quite impressive! Sort of looks like the people are carrying the place.

I would love to see more of this type of restoration. Although the mid 1900’s were no friend to these old structures, it’s obvious now that some developers are seeing the light. Many of the new towers are finding ways to incorporate the older structures into their plans.

Please remember to join the Spring Realty Insider Club for instant access to new posts and exciting new info as it becomes available. We’re on the verge of launching something pretty cool so you’ll definitely want to keep in touch. Find us on Facebook and Twitter too!