Honourable Mention - Elements
Gargoyles Old City Hall
Address: Old City Hall, 60 Queen Street West
Restoration Architect: The Ventin Group Ltd.
Client: City of
The restored Clock Tower at Old City Hall, located at the Bay and Queen Street intersection, accentuates on of Toronto's most dynamic meeting places.
Old City Hall, completed in 1899 for the centennial celebrations, was originally embellished with four stone gargoyles sprouting from the upper corners of the Clock Tower. Common belief was that gargoyles are guardians that keep evil away from the building and its occupants. In 1938, a substantial section of the northeast gargoyle broke off and crashed through the roof into the attic below. Due to aggressive environmental conditions on the exposed and susceptible stone material, the resulting state of deterioration caused concern for their stability. As a safety precaution, the gargoyles were removed from the tower the following year. Stripped of its gargoyles, the Clock Tower lost its distinctive profile and carefully balanced proportions.
Now, the missing stone gargoyles have been replaced with cast bronze gargoyles matching the original silhouettes. The new features were derived from a study of other gargoyles and grotesques of the same period, at other locations and from other examples still present on Old City Hall. The cast bronze sculptures are very durable and are expected to outlast most other features on the building.
These flamboyant Victorian Romanesque details, replacing originals that once adorned the clock tower of E. J. Lennox's Old City Hall, recall a time and architectural taste very different from our own. Hence their value as reminders of the mental worlds through which Toronto has passed in its journey to the present, and as gracious enrichments of the historical layering the jury believes to be crucially important in urban life.