item appeared this morning on Facebook, shared from the Toronto lifestyle website 'blogTO.com.' It concerns the fate (or the next iteration) of the 1883 C.H. Gooderham mansion at 592 Sherbourne Street. I have looked at this declining mansion on occasion, and wouldn't have given much for its chances. However, heritage legislation is growing teeth it would seem, and the company building a high-density residential development here is being compelled/inspired to incorporate the mansion into its design. Astonishing.
The mansion housed tony Branksome Hall girls' school from 1910-1912 (suppose it ever got called Pranksome?) and became the Selby Hotel in 1912. So the next stage for the house, incorporation into The Selby, luxury rental accommodation, is a fit. Here's the text of the amendment of designation. Better than becoming a pile of red and black bricks in landfill. Here's the concept shown on the Urban Toronto site. Ah yes, there's the mansion. Once considered a pretty big building. Advice? Don't look up.
'Facadism', technically the retention of the front face of a building while new construction goes on behind and above, way, way above, is common. In this case, it appears that the historic house will be set aside for the duration of construction, and moved back to form a lobby, social hub, maybe a cafe.
I'm taking this opportunity to enjoy my folder of Victorian Toronto mansions, those still residential, those repurposed, and those in limbo. The sheer complexity of their irregular plans and exuberant eclectic detail highlights the challenges involved with maintaining and restoring houses of that era - we no longer have the skill sets, the material costs are exorbitant, and tradespeople don't work for 10 cents an hour any more. And then there's the cost of city property.
One thing I didn't find in the various accounts of the project was information on the history of the 1883 Gooderham mansion, and the neighbourhood, aside from this: "In the late 19th century, it was home to Toronto bigwigs and their respective mansions."(blogTO) Here's one of the few references I found.
Here's anotherBlogTO link which contains oodles of historic photos of Sherbourne Street.
Romanesque Revival G.H. Gooderham home (1891) at 504 Jarvis Street. And if you're falling into an investigation of architecture associated with the Gooderham family (who would do that?!) there's the Flatiron Building, and the Gooderham and Worts Distillery complex now repurposed as the fascinating Distillery District.