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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

104 John Street

Take notice that Toronto City Council intends to designate the lands and buildings known municipally as 104 John Street under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.

Reasons for Designation

The property at 104 John Street 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. The two-storey building was completed in 1869 as a pair of semi-detached houses. The site was included on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties in 2005.

Statement of Significance
The Richard West Houses have design value as a rare surviving example of a mid-19th century house form building on a recognized heritage property in the King-Spadina neighbourhood that is distinguished by its dichromatic brickwork. With the evolution of the area over time, the Richard West Houses are among the few remaining buildings that were originally designed for residential use and that display decorative brick detailing. The two-toned brickwork is associated with the Gothic Revival style, which was introduced by British architects William Butterfield and G. E. Street in their designs for Victorian churches and promoted by architectural theorist John Ruskin. In the late 1800s, decorative dichromatic and polychromatic brick appeared on most building types in North America, including modest residential edifices exemplified by the Richard West House where the buff brick walls are enlivened by the contrasting red brick applied for the window detailing and quoins.

Contextually, with their location near the southwest corner of Adelaide Street West and John Street, the Richard West Houses are historically linked to one of the most significant blocks in the King-Spadina neighbourhood. The development of this district dates to the late 18th century, following the westward expansion of the original Town of York. "New Town" became the setting of many of the community's most important institutional buildings, including the Third Parliament Buildings and the first campus of Upper Canada College. The tract on the west side of John Street between King Street West and Newgate Street (now Adelaide Street West) where the subject property is found was the location of the inaugural General Hospital (completed 1820) and the temporary meeting place of the provincial legislature in 1824. Adjoining the hospital were Emigrant House (c. 1827), the Cholera Hospital (1834), and the fever sheds (1847) for the mainly Irish newcomers who were victims of the typhus epidemic. Following the relocation of Toronto General Hospital in the mid 1850s, the buildings were razed and the land subdivided into lots for housing. As a local contractor, Richard West presumably constructed the semi-detached houses facing John Street, south of Adelaide, where he resided in the north unit until the south portion was completed and occupied by his family. The residential character of the neighbourhood changed after the Great Fire of 1904, when the city's industrial centre moved into the locale adjoining King Street West and Spadina Avenue. By World War I, the N. B. Schipper Company, dealers in raw and dressed fur, converted the Richard West Houses as the offices for its business. Today, the Richard West Houses remain as a rare surviving late 19th century building that reflects the historical evolution of the area.

Heritage Attributes
The heritage attributes of the Richard West Houses are:

  • The scale, form and massing
  • Above a raised base, the two-storey rectangular plan where each unit is divided symmetrically into three bays
  • The materials, with red brick cladding, yellow brick detailing, and wood
  • The medium-pitched gable roof with double attached chimneys on the firebreak end walls (north and south)
  • The detailing on the principal (east) facade, with contrasting yellow brick applied for the quoins, string course dividing the stories, and window voussoirs
  • On the east façade, the entrances in the first storey, which are placed in the right (north) bay of each unit (the alterations to the entries represent the evolution of the building)
  • The fenestration on the east facade, where the flat-headed window openings are symmetrically placed, reduced in height in the second floor, and contain multi-pane sash windows (that are typical of the late 19th century)

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 4th day of February, 2010, which is March 5, 2010. The notice must set out the reason(s) for the objection, and all relevant facts.

Dated at Toronto this 4th day of February, 2010

Ulli S. Watkiss
City Clerk


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