In the matter of the Ontario Heritage Act
R.S.O. 1990 Chapter 0.18
City of Toronto, Province of Ontario
Notice of intention to designate
65 Front Street East
Take notice that Toronto City Council intends to designate the lands and buildings known municipally as 65 Front Street East under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.
Reasons for Designation
The property at 65 Front Street East is worthy of designation under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act for its cultural heritage value, and meets the criteria for municipal designation prescribed by the Province of Ontario under the categories of design and contextual value. Located on the southeast corner of Front Street East and Church Street, the John Smith and Company Warehouse (1869) is a three-storey commercial building that was listed on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1973.
Statement of Cultural Heritage Value
The John Smith and Company Warehouse has design value as a rare surviving example of a late 19th century warehouse in Toronto that displays decorative detailing from the Gothic Revival style. Commercial buildings with the distinctive pointed-arch motifs and patterned brickwork identified with the Gothic Revival were relatively rare in Toronto, particularly along Front Street East where most of the warehouses favoured Renaissance Revival and Second Empire designs, often with cast iron storefronts. Therefore, the John Smith and Company Warehouse stands as an important reminder of the application of Gothic Revival styling to a commercial warehouse in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. The building retains its contrasting buff brick cornice that draws attention to the façades on Front and Church streets. While alterations to the structure have resulted in the removal of the distinctive pointed-arch detailing, these elements remain visible in the brickwork above the first- and third-storey openings and are documented in historical photographs.
Contextually, the John Smith and Company Warehouse is historically linked to its surroundings on Front Street East where it anchors the southeast corner of Church Street in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. Front Street originated as Palace Street and formed the south boundary of the Town of York. Ignoring the townsite's grid pattern of streets, Front Street was curved west of Jarvis Street to follow the shore of Lake Ontario. In the 1850s, the shoreline was extended by landfill, The Esplanade was established south of Front Street, and railway lines were built along the waterfront where additional wharves were located. With these improvements and the proximity to St. Lawrence Market (1844) at Front and Jarvis streets, wholesale merchants and manufacturers financed large warehouses with accessible basements to take advantage of the sloping lots along the south side of Front Street East. The first full-scale warehouses on Front Street East were built near the market in the late 1850s, with the next phase of construction extending westward past Church Street. The John Smith and Company Warehouse (1869) was commissioned for a firm of wholesale grocers, and subsequently acquired by Cramp, Torrances and Company, importers of tea and produce from "East and West India." The John Smith and Company Warehouse and its neighbours contributed to the reputation of Front Street East as the commercial heart of Toronto in the 19th century. Change began in the early 1900s when the King-Spadina neighbourhood emerged as the city's new warehousing and manufacturing centre. By the close of World War II, many of the Front Street warehouses were in disrepair and subsequently demolished. The City of Toronto promoted the revitalization of the neighbourhood in the 1960s with the restoration of St. Lawrence Market. This success was followed by the occupancy of the John Smith and Company Warehouse and the other surviving warehouses along Front Street East with restaurants, offices, specialty shops and art galleries. Today, the John Smith and Company Warehouse contributes to the historical character of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, which contains a collection of complementary commercial warehouses from the Victorian era that are recognized on the City's heritage inventory, along with City-wide landmarks including the Second City Hall (1844) and St. Lawrence Hall (1851). The John Smith and Company Warehouse anchors the unique intersection created by the convergence of Front Street East, Wellington Street East and Church Street, which is overlooked by the landmark Flatiron Building (1892).
The heritage attributes of the John Smith and Company Warehouse related to its stated cultural heritage value are:
- The scale, form and massing
- The three-storey rectangular plan under a hipped roof
- The red brick cladding with brick and stone detailing
- On the principal (north) façade on Front Street East and the long west elevation on Church Street, the pattern and placement of the door and window openings
- The first-storey storefront (north and west), which has been altered, where an original round-arched opening remains in the left (east) bay on the north façade
- In the second and third stories, the organization of the fenestration by piers
- The decorative detailing, with the contrasting yellow brick cornice with stone brackets
- Its location anchoring the southeast corner of Front Street East and Church Street where it overlooks the Flatiron Building and Berczy Park
Notice of an objection to the proposed designation may be served on the City Clerk, Attention: Rosalind Dyers, Administrator, Toronto and East York Community Council, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, 2nd floor, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, within thirty days of the 26th day of October, 2009, which is November 24, 2009. The notice must set out the reason(s) for the objection, and all relevant facts.
Dated at Toronto this 26th day of October, 2009.
Ulli S. Watkiss