City Centre Mirror
They've been part of Toronto's cityscape for more than a century and their appeal doesn't stem only from their architectural design, but from the materials used to build them.
Five Toronto landmarks that have helped define the city's character have been singled out as the city's best examples of masonry construction by experts in the field.
"Masonry products are among the oldest, longest-lasting and most versatile building materials available," said Jack Prazeres, president of MasonryWorx, in a press release. "With Toronto's rich history of beautiful and enduring buildings, it's no surprise that most of the iconic and architecturally significant buildings in the city were built with brick, block or stone."
MasonryWorx, the trade association of brick, block and stone masonry professionals, selected the top heritage buildings based on durability, aesthetic appeal, community contribution, and the best use of masonry products in their architectural design.
MasonryWorx studied Toronto's extensive inventory of masonry heritage buildings and selected the following five:
The Gladstone Hotel
Built in 1889 at 1214 Queen St. W., this Toronto landmark has been entertaining the city and its visitors for more than 100 years.
Situated on the corner of Queen Street West and Gladstone Avenue, the rough cut stone and brick give the building its iconic image.
Old City Hall
Officially opened in 1899, Old City Hall, at 60 Queen St. W., was designed by famed architect E.J. Lennox, who was commissioned by the city to build a durable structure of stone.
Unlike the West Wing of Ontario's Legislative Buildings, which was built of stone to resist fire, Old City Hall was constructed with permanence and aesthetics in mind. Accordingly, Lennox designed the building with the exterior in rock-faced sandstone, the ground level of heavy courses of stone, and masonry above the roof line.
Said Toronto's Mayor at the time of construction: "Buildings symbolize a people's deeds and aspirations."
The Distillery District
A National Historic Site, the Distillery District is one of the best examples of the industrial sector's use of masonry building products that stand the test of time.
Beginning in 1832, the Distillery District sprung from the ground with its Victorian industrial architecture, ideal for the District because of its form and function. Today, the District's enduring buildings have been designated as the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.
The enduring beauty of the material has prompted a revitalization of the area into "an unbelievably important treasure" according to the Director of Planning for the City of Toronto.
The Gooderham Building
The focus of one of Toronto's most iconic vistas, and an historic landmark, the Gooderham Building is also known as the Flat Iron building at Church and Front streets.
Built in 1892 on the eastern edge of the city's Financial District, this building has housed both commercial and office space over the past century. The red brick building, designed in Romanesque and Gothic revival style, was built for George Gooderham, former president of the Bank of Toronto and owner of Gooderham and Worts distillery.
The narrow wedge-shaped building highlights how masonry products can be used to create such unique architectural style.
Toronto's iconic castle, and certainly one of Canada's most impressive buildings, Casa Loma on Austin Terrace was built from 1911 to 1914 by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt as a setting where he could play host to royalty.
The largest house ever built in Canada, Casa Loma boasts white cast-stone battlements, chimneys and towers, and an impressive skyline that runs between Walmer Road and Davenport Road. Casa Loma is one of the most popular tourist sites in Canada. Its Gothic Revival style depicted in stone ensures its place as part of Toronto's cultural heritage.
"Buildings constructed with masonry products stand testament to the history and durability of brick, block and stone," said Prazeres. "These buildings are perfect examples of why masonry products make the ideal building material. Not only do they look incredible, but they will continue to enhance neighbourhoods for centuries to come."