Why I Love Toronto Reason #227
295 - 305 George Street
I don’t know what it is about my love for abandoned buildings. There is something that draws me to their loneliness and their neglect. Many see them as an eye sore on the community, but I see them as architectural masterpieces. These buildings make me feel as though I need to do something. I feel that I need to bring them back to life because they have so much more life left in them. My heart breaks when old buildings are left for neglect. I mean take The Empress Hotel, when that wall collapsed it sat there for months abandoned and then it burned to the ground. But that building had so much more life left in it and so much history to it.
Anyways there are a few boarded up/ gated up houses on George Street that are abandoned and one of them (295 George Street) – honestly if it is restored could be the most beautiful building in the city. The homes at 295 and 297 are Georgian townhouses that were built in 1858 and 305 was built in 1859.
However it is 295 that has the most history out of the three buildings (297 and 305). In 1884 William Gooderham Jr. (we all know his family’s history with the Distillery District and Flatiron Building), bought 295 George Street for J.W.C. Fegan so he could establish the Fegan Boys Distribution Home. What this meant was that English and Irish boys where brought from the UK , lived here and were eventually sent out to farms across the province. It was used as a distribution home until 1939 in which is became a home for the disabled. It later served as a warehouse for Interalia Co. ltd. The Torontoist even said the building was a slaughterhouse. 295 is an absolutely stunning building and what I love is the second floor from the outside with the XXXXXXXX that go along the bottom of the second floor windows and above them as well. To me it gives a very medieval feel to the building. However, 295 considering its vast history is not a heritage property.
305 also has some history to it. It was known as the place where Thomas Meredith would relax. Now 305, unlike 295, is a designated heritage property.
Now the major problem with these buildings is that even though they have a vast history and have the potential for great beauty they are not in a very desirable neighbourhood. You have a 500 bed homeless shelter, prostitution, drug dealers, drug users as well as strip club really close by – a far cry from an area that used to house some of Toronto’s wealthiest citizens. However, these properties are still very expensive with the Star reporting that 295 has an asking price of $8.9 Million.
I hate to be the one to say this, but I have this gut feeling these building will not be around for much longer. I feel as though they will either catch fire (or in the case of 295 catch fire again), collapse from the deterioration or be demolished. Now I hate saying that because look at the history I have provided you. These buildings were integral to Toronto’s past, something no new building complex will ever get the chance to have. When my children grow up I am afraid they are going to be left with history-less buildings. Regardless, the houses on George Street are
Why I Love Toronto.