The Guild is a unique facility encompassing several historic buildings inside a public park. Guildwood Park forms a naturalized frame around the formal Guild Inn Gardens, within which one may find the historic Guild Inn (now closed to the public) and several other historic structures. Surrounding these buildings are more than 70 architectural fragments and sculptures within the formal gardens.
Originally a private residence, the main building was renovated extensively to become a public hotel, and the buildings which surround it were pressed into service to become The Guild of All Arts, a Depression-era arts and crafts colony, envisioned as an artists’ retreat to stimulate and nurture artistic endeavours in a unique landscape setting. The extensive private gardens surrounding the buildings became the site of a personal building conservation program by Rosa and Spencer Clark, whereby fragments from demolished buildings in and around Toronto were rescued by their efforts and re-erected to create a sculpture garden. Passing into the public domain in 1978, the grounds became a public park and the art and sculpture on display in the gardens became a unique attraction to this lovely setting atop the Scarborough Bluffs.
The original vision of the Guild Founders, Rosa and Spencer Clark, provided the inspiration for a modern revitalization plan adjusted to suit contemporary needs and business concerns.
In 2006 Goldsmith, Borgal & Company Ltd Architects in conjunction with Artscape, the MBTW Group and Novita, were retained by the City of Toronto to define a feasibility, design and development model for a new cultural precinct on the 81-acre site surrounding the new hotel.
The cultural precinct will contain a contemporary sculpture park and festival gardens set amidst native forest, architectural follies and formal gardens. Existing and new facilities will house well-equipped collective studios for sculptors and artisans, allowing them to share ideas, methods, and techniques with each other and the public. Interior and exterior exhibition space will be provided to display elements of the Guild collection as well as a wide variety of new work. Interpretation of the site’s history and geographic setting will be provided through displays at the Visitor Centre and historic Osterhaut cabin. A café and craft shop will further enhance the visitation experience. In keeping with key development principles of cultural and environmental continuity and sustainability, existing structures will be adaptively reused incorporating low energy and environmentally sustainable design solutions.
The project is conceived to proceed in two primary phases. Phase One will include the Sculpture Park, Festival Gardens, Fabrication Studio and Visitor Facilities. Phase Two proposes the inclusion of an Art Gallery and enhancements to the Greek Theatre. This REOI is in reference to Phase One.
191 Guildwood Parkway Scarborough, ON M1E 1P5
A Brief History
The Guild Inn was built in 1914 as a white stucco, Arts and Crafts style mansion, surrounded by 88 acres of gardens and woodlands. The residence was built for Col. Harold C. Bickford, a retired American soldier, with a penchant for polo ponies and automobiles. When Rosa Breithaupt Hewetson purchased the property in 1932, shortly before her marriage to Spencer Clark, the socially conscious couple decided to model their new home into an artist's colony based on the Roycroft, New York model. Bickford's stables and garages were converted into "The Studio" which was to house the craft workshops of the artisans who lived and worked at The Guild of All Arts.
During the Second World War, the Canadian Government requisitioned the property and turned it into a training base for the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRENS). The hotel also served as a military hospital for victims of shellshock, with the craft facilities providing therapeutic rehabilitation for the service personnel undergoing treatment there.
The Clarks returned to the property in 1947. For the next 35 years, the Clarks built a reputation as patrons of the arts and preservationists, amassing a huge art collection and preserving architectural fragments from dozens of demolished buildings. The property and the architectural fragments were sold to the Province of Ontario in 1978 to be maintained as a public park. Spencer Clark continued to run the property until 1983, when a Board of Management was formed to oversee operations. In 1996, the Toronto Culture took over responsibility for the sculpture and architectural fragments, while the Parks and Recreation Division oversees The Guild Inn and the surrounding parkland.
The Guildwood School
As part of the mandate of The Guild of All Arts to preserve the craft tradition and foster arts education, The Guildwoods School operated from 1935-1936 as a private boarding school for children from kindergarten through elementary school. Classes emphasized the basic foundations of education with an artistic focus. The small classes often included instruction by notable personalities in the arts community. The hotel provided room and board for both the students and their teachers. However, this experiment in arts education failed, and the school closed after its first year.
In 1968, the Guildwood School of Arts and Crafts, a volunteer community organization and the forerunner of the present Cedar Ridge Studio Gallery was founded. It operated under the patronage of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Clark in a building on the grounds of the Guild Inn. In 1972, the organization was incorporated as the Guildcrest Studios. Upon the invitation of the City of Scarborough, Guildcrest Studios agreed to move to Cedar Ridge, another estate nearby. Guildcrest Studios later changed its name to Cedar Ridge Studio Gallery and operated a teaching studio from 1978 to 1985. Today, Cedar Ridge is programmed by the City of Toronto's Toronto Culture.
Rentals and Permits
Permits for wedding and commercial photography and filming in The Guild Gardens can be obtained from the City of Toronto at 416- 392-8188.
The Guild Cultural Precinct Report (8 mb)
Guild Sculpture Walking Tour (178 kb)
Guild Map (21 kb)
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