Posts Tagged ‘facade’

While walking on Yonge Street on the day of the Pride Parade, I noticed that the St. Charles tavern clock tower was visible once more.  Also on that day, I heard someone ask the person beside them what the tower was.  The answer was something like, “I don’t know what it is but it looks interesting.”  I went back this weekend to take some pictures – not quite so many people in the way!

below: The St. Charles as it was back in the 1950’s.  It was built by Charles Hemstead who had made his money in real estate and horse breeding.  Hemstead sold it in 1958 but it continued as the St. Charles until 1987.

black and white photo from 1955 of the St. Charles Tavern and it's clock tower on YOnge Street

photo credit: 1955. Photo by James Salmon, originally found  at Toronto Public Library. I found it online at Toronto.com in an excellent article about  the history of the building and its role in the LGBQT community.

I have always associated the tower with the St. Charles Tavern but I now know that the tower pre-dates the St. Charles by many decades. It was built as part of Fire Hall Number 3 in the 1870s. Although the fire hall is long gone (it was replaced by the fire hall on Grosvenor Street in the 1920’s), the clock tower has survived several changes of ownership.  It is also going to survive the next change which, of course, is the building of a large glass and steel condo on the southwest corner of Yonge & Grosvenor.

below: The site has been cleared.  Looking south from Grosvenor.

construction site, downtown Toronto, clock tower of St. Charles tavern, tall condos, construction equipment

below: Looking north up Yonge Street towards Grosvenor.  The yellow scaffolding is holding up the brick facade of 480 and 482 Yonge Street.  It too will be incorporated into the new development.  Can you count how many new condos there are? Did you notice that the two clock faces say different times?

looking north up Yonge Street towards Grosvenor, clock tower still there, yellow scaffolding holding up the facade of an old brick building

The clock kept time until 1969.  It had been maintained by the city up until then.  Repairs and upkeep stopped when the city decided that the cost was too much.   Maybe it will function once again in the near future.

St. Charles tavern clock tower stands on a construction site as a woman on a bike cycles past

below: An archway has been built into the back of the clock tower.

close up of the lower part of clock tower, with archway that has been constructed at the back

looking up, condo towers and the clock tower from the St. Charles tavern

On the 19th of April, 1904, a large section of downtown Toronto burned for nine hours.

street map of downtown Toronto showing the buildings that were affected by the fire of 1904.

Map showing the area of Toronto affected by the fire of 1904. Bay Street from the Esplanade to Miranda Street (just south of King Street) was the hardest hit.  At the time, this was called the Wholesale District of the city.

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Historical photo of Bay street after the 1904 fire in Toronto.  There are people on the street.  The street is all mud.  There are many burned out buildings on both sides of the streets.  Brick facing of two to four storey buildings is all that remains.

Aftermath, Bay street, April 1904.

In part, because the fire started in the evening, there were no fatalities. As a result of the fire, 5000 people were left without a job.   In 1904, the population of Toronto was about 200,000 so the loss of employment on this scale had an impact on the city.

a very bright and colourful mural on the back of a brick building,  It shows, in reds, yellows ans oranges the burning of a couple of brick buildings, with flames coming out of the windows.

Mural painted on the back of the building on the northwest corner of College St. and Croft St.  (398 College St.), commemorating the fire of 1904.

Demolition of the ruins left by the fire took many weeks.  On the 4th of May, John Croft died while using dynomite to bring down the remains of the W.J. Gage building on Front Street.  His was the only known death associated with the fire.  What is now Croft Street was renamed in his honour.

The east side of 398 College St., at the south end of Croft St., is painted with a mural as a memorial to John Croft.

corner of a building showing parts of two murals.  On the back wall is the mural depicting the fire itself.  On the side wall is a memorial to John Croft.

northeast corner of the building

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1904

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Burned out brick buildings.  All that remains is part of the front facade of these two to six storey buildings.

Burned out buildings, April 1904

The images of the fire’s aftermath are available online.   The originals are kept at the City of Toronto Archives, located on Spadina Road., just north of Dupont Street.

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