published by
2635 Subscribers

Issue No. 208 | March 12, 2013


Add your Story

Feature Stories

  1. Mirvish Gehry Second Public Meeting
  2. Lessons from the American Lowcountry
  3. Toronto Star: Toronto Opting Out of OMB
  4. Toronto Star: Threats to Kensington Market Businesses
  5. Globe and Mail: Proposal for artificial turf-Back Campus U of T
  6. Spacing: MGM Casino Proposal for Toronto
  7. Historical Maps of Toronto: Simple, free, online access
  8. King Weekly Sentinel: King Council designates Shift
  9. Sault Star: Wynne and Wind Turbines


Toronto History is Trending: Alter-egos, Artifacts and Protagonists
Thursday, March 21, 2013
+ read

Riverdale Historical Society March Event
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
+ read

Daniels Lecture: Rahul Mehrotra
March 19, 2013
+ read

Kensington Market Historical Society Inaugural Event
20 March
+ read

Ronald Shiffman: Pluralism In Planning
20 March
+ read


ad ad ad ad ad ad ad

Built Heritage News Sponsors


1. Mirvish Gehry Second Public Meeting
Catherine Nasmith

Mirvish Gehry scheme for King Street Toronto

I have to confess that I was not able to attend the full public meeting where David Mirvish and representatives of Frank Gehry's office in L.A. presented their scheme complete with model to the public on Tuesday Feb 19. I was there to hear some of the questions from the audience. The most important came from Margie Zeidler, the owner of 401 Richmond Street.

Margie Zeidler is one of the smartest urbanists in Toronto, if not North America. She grew up at the knee of Jane Jacobs, and is a recipient of the Jane Jacobs prize. She is the president or UrbanSpace Property, the developer of 401 Richmond Street and 215 Spadina, the creator of the Centre for Social Innovation and often asked to speak on arts based urban regeneration. She was also involved in the start up of the Gladstone Hotel, which is now run by sister Cristina. 

The Zeidler family have given extraordinary gifts to Toronto. Father Eb has built all around the world. In Toronto Ontario Place and the Eaton Centre are his most celebrated landmark buildings. When the Zeidler family is questioning a project, Toronto should do more than listen politely.

Just to refresh, the Mirvish Gehry project will raze a block of lovely 19th century fabric and the Princess of Wales theatre which was carefully designed to fit that context, and replace with 3 new 70 storey condo towers which will pay for a gallery to house David Mirvish's collection of modern art, as well as some commercial space and studio space for OCAD. All to be designed by the great American architect, Frank Gehry. The towers sit in an open plaza across from the open plaza of Roy Thomson Hall, and Metro Hall. 

Mirvish talks about wanting to give Gehry an opportunity to make a landmark building in his hometown, and wanting to give a gift to Toronto in the form of an art collection. The project is similar in conception to the Bell Lightbox, a cultural facility paid for with the profits from a condo tower. but what is wrong with this project is that it will raze a full block of perfectly useable operating buildings, most of which are already designated. This section of Toronto has very little of its 19th century fabric left, and the loss of these buildings, combined with the threats to the nearby "restaurant row" will eliminate what is left. Beyond the clear issue of loss of heritage fabric, Ms. Zeidler made some other points.

Tax implications of the Redevelopment for other Property Owners: Zeidler owns a larger parcel of land nearby which is fully tenanted with artists spaces. She could make a similar application, but doesn't want to. She pointed out that the tax rates on property are set by the development value, not on the current income of a property. And the development value is established by what is going on in the area, which includes many recent wild rezonings; whether approved by Council, Committee of Adjustment or OMB. Those approvals increase property taxes for owners who want to continue operating as they always have. 

Precedent: The Bell Lightbox was given significant extra density to pay for the cultural facilities within. But the next developer gets the same density, whether or not any public benefits are on offer. The Mirvish Gehry proposal will guarantee copy-cat developments at the same density.

No guarantees that the project will be built as presented: Ms. Zeidler pointed out that once a property has been rezoned there is nothing to stop the property owner from selling to another developer, so no guarantee that the carrots that are being used to justify this project will materialize.

Have they considered other places where demolition is not required?: Mr. Mirvish responded with, this is the land I own.

Councillor Vaughan also responded that the City is working to try to deal with the tax system.  As that needs agreement from the province to fix it is pretty likely it can't be in place to prevent the collateral damage Ms. Zeidler described. 

There is no doubt it would be a great asset for Toronto to have a Gehry designed building to house the Mirvish collection, but this is the wrong place for it. Adam Vaughan, perhaps in conjunction with Waterfront Toronto need to get busy looking to find another location where the project could be built without destruction of the existing buildings and threatening the operation of 401 Richmond St. This is just the kind of cultural facility that would breath cultural life into the East Don Land, and link to all the great things happening in the Distillery District. Or the Port Lands, Or the CNE. 

2. Lessons from the American Lowcountry
Catherine Nasmith

Savannah street
Broad Street, Charleston

I have just returned from a wonderful trip along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, an area called the Lowcountry,  The two biggest centres are Savannah and Charleston. Residents of either city will ask you to choose between them, but as a visitor there is no reason to do it. They are both great, and a preservationists dream to visit.

From Toronto the area can be easily reached by a two hour Porter flight to Myrtle Beach. Road connections south are easy to navigate. The lowcountry is characterized by the huge salt-marsh areas at the many river deltas, and pine forests. Settlements tend to be on defensible peninsulas where two rivers meet. The famous majestic single oaks draped with Spanish moss were introduced as a landscape tree by the British.

This coast was settled with by the British to defend the area from the French and the Spanish with varying degrees of co-operation, opposition from the natives.  An English Canadian will feel quite at home, most towns have streets named Queen, King, George and Front. The smaller towns such as Beaufort and Georgetown resemble Niagara on the Lake, with gridded streets and classical architecture.  

The depression that hit the south after the civil war has left much antebellum architecture in place to be restored in the second half of the twentieth century. The beauty of the architecture is bittersweet having been built on a slave economy. The Gullah culture that arrived with the black population is alive and well, and much celebrated. It has influenced food, music and buildings. Ironically the biggest contribution of slaves was the knowledge of rice growing, a technology the enslaved Africans brought with them to America and created vast wealth for the plantation owners and all those who traded with them. 

Charleston is the place of showplace architecture, filled with the mansions built by plantation owners who spent their summers away from the stench of rice-growing, and winters enjoying the social season in town. The many house museums give insight into the life and influence of these families, and more and more docent attention is being given to the lives of the slaves who lived with them. If you go to the area, do not miss seeing Drayton Hall and Middleton Plantation next door, one is an intact mansion, the second a several hundred acre garden with both classical formal gardens and later nineteenth century romantic areas. Even early in the season camellias and azelias were in bloom everywhere.

The south end of Charleston is beautifully restored, and full of interesting buildings and gardens. The town began as a fortified city, with a fairly pragmatic grid of streets, which through the work of 20th century preservation have been preserved. For the most part buildings hug the streets closely, gardens are to the side or behind walls, with glimpses of green from the streets.

The city has evolved with its own architectural and site-planning traditions. The Charleston single house is a classical house oriented with its end to the street, and access along a long porch(piazza) and a side garden running front to back. This pattern has adapted well to the introduction of automobiles.

While there I bought “Historic Preservation for a Living City” by Robert R. Weyeneth, published on the 50th anniversary of the Historic Charleston Foundation. Being the preservation junkie I am, I read the history like a mystery novel cover to cover. The book is full of all kinds of preservation strategies and ideas for fundraising for heritage organizations. Practices pioneered in Charleston have informed preservation across the U.S. For example in 1931 the first U.S.historic preservation ordinance was passed in Charleston. 

Just as the city was built on a slave economy, the relationships between blacks and whites in Charleston is a strong theme in the history of its conservation. The first preservation efforts were from descendents of the great early families, working to preserve important ancestral landmarks. Later urban preservation efforts to reclaim whole areas at a time and conserve historic building fabric were unabashed in their objectives to push the poorer black population further north. When this negative “gentrification” effect of preservation was fought by subsequent black neighbourhoods, the Foundation re-directed its efforts to using a revolving fund to supply restored houses for sale at affordable levels and the creation of new affordable housing compatible with historic building stock. 

Founded in 1733, Savannah, the smaller sister city is a complete contrast to Charleston in its founding goals. It was established to protect Charleston to the north, but Oglethorpe who started the colony at Georgia with a group of debtors, began with an idealistic grand plan for a city full of squares and great streets, and an egalitarian pattern of small blocks which accommodated a mix of housing for people of varying income levels.

Initially the colony banned slavery, alcohol, gaming and oddly, lawyers. It was founded in friendship with natives who helped the settlers get established. Even though all of these banns were dropped later, the city retains a much more middle class architecture. There are grand homes, but nowhere near the number or size found in Charleston.

The Massie Heritage Centre is one of the best museums of the history of the city I have seen, established in a former school house, with a model of the city, and a room on the history of architectural styles in the City. The Savannah College of Art and Design has grown by restoring one after another of Savannah’s landmark buildings. The institution is scattered across the city offering courses in architecture, preservation and art, and teaches preservation through hands on work in its properties.

To round out the tour we also stopped at St. Simon’s Island, Jekyll Island to the south of Savannah. Jekyll Island has a splendid hotel which was the former home of the most exclusive club of the early twentieth century, where the Rockefellers, Morgans and friends passed the winter. The Jekyll Island Club house, along with several of the “cottages” of the former millionaire members are open as a hotel in the centre of a state run park. 

Beaufort and Georgetown, which were also founded for defensive reasons, also became places of second homes for plantation owners.

The exceptional beauty of these places, restored through the efforts of historic preservation, makes them both highly desirable places to live as well as magnets for the tourism that has become such an important revenue source. But what if all communities strove for beauty in the environment? Perhaps visitors are not the only reason to “clean house”, The design guidelines that preserve these southern cities are not hard to create, or enforce. Don’t we all deserve to live in places that please the eye and lift the spirits?

P.S. the great architecture is accompanied by a great food culture.

3. Toronto Star: Toronto Opting Out of OMB
Paul Maloney

OMB should go say Toronto councillors

A bid to remove Toronto planning decisions from the oversight of the Ontario Municipal Board deserves support, city councillors say.

Ontario’s capital city has a strong planning department which should be accountable to the public for how the city evolves, said Councillor Adam Vaughan.

Vaughan and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam held a city hall news conference Thursday to support a move by a Toronto MPP to exempt the city from the municipal board, which hears appeals of planning decisions.
Toronto could set up its own appeals body under private member’s legislation being pushed at Queen’s Park by New Democrat Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina).

Vaughan said the current system lets councillors off the hook by allowing them to pretend to oppose unpopular developments while knowing they will likely be approved on appeal to the OMB.

“As long as you have an unaccountable body, politicians can hide behind it,” Vaughan said.

At city hall, there has been relentless criticism that the provincial tribunal too often sides with developers.
“The OMB does little to provide clarity, accountability or vision to the planning process,” he said. “What they are is a venue for people with deep pockets to second-guess the city.”

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

I attended the debate in the Legislative Assembly on this Private Members Bill and was pleased to see a reasoned debate and support on both sides of the floor for Rosario Marchese's bill. Glen Murray, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, MPP Toronto Centre Rosedale voiced strong support, as did Mike Colle, who had attempted a similar initiative 15 years earlier. Queen's Park Views gets mentioned as one of the absurd cases.

NOTE: Rosario is open to including any other municipalities in Ontario who want to opt out in his bill, so if your Council wants out, this is the time. 


4. Toronto Star: Threats to Kensington Market Businesses
Alex Bazinngall

Rent hikes may force Kensington Market café out in favour of chain tenant

Coffee-sipping regulars, seekers of coriander and thyme, and candy-mad kids who speak with softened R’s: Ossie Pavao chats with them all, smiling from behind the shop counter with a friendly flash in his warm brown eyes.

Some of his earliest memories took place right here in 1963, when his Portuguese immigrant father opened the Casa Acoreana café and food shop on the corner of Baldwin St. and Augusta Ave. — the heart of Kensington Market. Now 55, Pavao runs the family business, where shelves of jars line the walls, filled with all manner of nuts, herbs, spices, coffee and candy.

“It’s home,” said Pavao, toque-clad and stubble-faced. “We’ve got the best customers in the world.”
But after a half-century in business, Pavao concedes the Casa’s days might be numbered. On Tuesday morning, he learned the owner of his building plans to jack up the rent, which could shunt aside Casa and four adjacent shops along Baldwin St., making room for one or more new, higher-paying tenants.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

Kensington Market was not made a National Historic Site to support chain retail....It is a struggle to preserve the market, but some of the best minds in preservation are trying to find a way. Ironically, a shooting incident (no one hurt thank goodness) in the neighbourhood park over the weekend may have a dampening effect on rents....but of course that is not the answer.

The real estate agent is Mr. Phillip Pick, you can email him at 

5. Toronto Star: No Home for Historic Letters
Joseph Hall

Historical letters not wanted at Library and Archives Canada, critics say

Many of his comrades were sick from fouled water after breaking camp on Lake Erie that fall.

But as his 21st U.S. Infantry Regiment prepared to attack Canada, — perhaps at Montreal, though Kingston and Prescott were also rumoured targets — Sgt. John Bentley took time in late September 1813 to write a four-page letter to his wife back in Thomaston, Me.

With a price tag of $1,500, that War of 1812 missive was offered for sale as a quill-and-ink first draft of our history.

The body charged with accumulating and preserving such Canadian artifacts turned it down.
It also rejected a collection of personal narratives from fugitive slaves in Upper Canada dated 1856. The same goes for the correspondences from 1836 to 1839 between senior British officials on the state of Indian tribes in the colonies.

Indeed, since 2009, Library and Archives Canada hasn’t wanted a whole lot of the historic letters, journals, books and maps it once collected so dutifully, critics say. It has also, they charge, stopped collecting a comprehensive array of this country’s current cultural and artistic output and limited the access that academics and genealogists have to its Ottawa-based materials.

Click here for Link

6. Toronto Star: Mixing New and Old in Toronto
Raja Moussaoui

Saving Toronto

One in an ongoing series on Toronto’s increasing density and its impact on life in the city.

The debate over how Toronto can absorb more people while preserving old landmarks is unfolding in two very different ways near the intersection of Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave.

Well-publicized protests over the sale of Postal Station K to a private developer highlight the traditional battle between heritage conservation and the demand for development.

But around the corner, on Eglinton Ave., city planners are testing a new concept to create more living space without destroying much-loved old buildings.

This type of hybrid architecture is being adopted in cities older and more dense than Toronto, such as London, England, and New York. The idea is simple enough: Create relatively small, contemporary extensions and slot them into and around historic mid-rise buildings. Design experts call it “a delicate adding of density.”

In Toronto, a new city planning policy that encourages this type of development is gradually gaining attention. “It’s the first time the city has been pro-active in terms of articulating the kind of development that we haven’t seen but that we want to see,” said Lorna Day, project manager for the Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study, which was endorsed by city council in 2010.

The study takes the general guidelines set out in the Official Plan and applies to Toronto examples of heritage conservation techniques found in a number of cities around the world.

Click here for Link

7. Toronto Star: Architects turn to adaptive reuse to save heritage buildings - Dineen Building Toronto
Kenneth Kidd

A new and financially viable style of historic preservation called adaptive reuse flaunts the interesting parts of a property's heritage

BERNARD WEIL / TORONTO STAR - Clayton Smith, who runs Commercial Realty Group, is busy refurbishing historic Toronto buildings, such as the Dineen Building behind him at Yonge and Temperance St.

Clayton Smith, who runs Commercial Realty Group, is busy refurbishing historic Toronto buildings, such as the Dineen Building behind him at Yonge and Temperance St.

 First we shape our buildings, then they shape us, then we shape them again.
— Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn

Just inside the Temperance St. entrance to 140 Yonge St., Clayton Smith is pointing to an overhead arch with the original wood lath left exposed — the thin wooden slats that plasterers would have originally covered with a brown coat and then a putty or finishing coat.

“It shows the old workmanship,” says Smith. “We wanted to show it off.”

In a corner of the lobby sits an iron safe that was hauled up from the basement and restored, with “J & J Taylor Safe Works Co.” repainted on its front to match the style of a similar safe at another Smith property, the Gooderham Flatiron building.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

Adaprtive Re-use has a long tradition, so the concept must be new to the author of the article.

8. Globe and Mail: Proposal for artificial turf-Back Campus U of T
Michael Bliss

Why turf an oasis of Torontos urban heritage?

Canada’s largest university, set in the heart of downtown Toronto, is preparing to drastically shrink its campus green space to build new artificial-turf playing fields for elite athletes. Many faculty, students and alumni are not happy with what is now presented to them as a fait accompli. E-mails are flying and petitions circulating. An important part of the university’s and community’s heritage is being jeopardized by the steering effects of Pan American Games money.


U of T's plan for green space outrages students, staff, alumni and area residents

The University of Toronto’s front and back campuses, the fields to the south and north of University College, have been oases of openness in the heart of the city. They are the places where people meet and mingle, jog, throw frisbees, hold demonstrations and play pickup softball and all manner of organized sports. Graduates celebrate on the front campus, student soldiers drilled on the back campus during the two world wars and the Toronto Argonauts sometimes trained there. And every spring, around exam time, these great commons have to be closed off for a few weeks while their grass is regenerated – as has been the case for more than a century.



Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

To Support Efforts to Preserve Back Campus

9. Spacing: MGM Casino Proposal for Toronto
John Lorinc

MGMs Casino Ex-travaganza: have we seen this show before?

When MGM Resorts International unveiled its flashy proto-proposal for the CNE yesterday, the company’s officials were eager to talk about the 10,000 new jobs the $3- to $4-billion project would create, as well as the cavernous underground parking lot, hotel, shopping complex, performance venues, five-star restos, and a new location for our scruffy old Midway. All of it (plus a casino) wedged onto the Exhibition grounds, with transit access thrown in as a pot sweetener.

Click here for Link

10. Historical Maps of Toronto: Simple, free, online access
Nathan Ng

Simple, free, online access to historical maps of Toronto

One of Many

I'm excited to inform you about Historical Maps of Toronto, an online collection of notable pre-1900 maps of our fair city, easily accessible via the web.

I hope the site will facilitate discovery and exploration, as well as be a convenient resource for casual research. These maps connect us to the city as it used to be, providing remarkable glimpses into our shared history and heritage.

Highlights include: the 1858 Boulton Atlas of the City of Toronto (including a key map), the 1851 Fleming Topographical Plan of the City of Toronto, and the oft-overlooked 1834 Alpheus Todd Plan of the City of Toronto.

I have assembled the collection to serve as a companion site to my previous historical Toronto mapping project, *Goad's Atlas of Toronto -- Online!* (

Please share this with anyone who would enjoy it or find it useful as a resource.

kind regards,

Nathan Ng

Click here for Link

11. Burlington Post: Jane Irwin: professor, author, history buff
Tim Whitnell

Jane Irwin receives her Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal from Burlington MPP Jane McKenna and Burlington MP Mike Wallace during a ceremony last Canada Day (July 1). Richard Bachmann - Special to Post

An academic woman of many interests around Burlington has died.

Jane Irwin suffered a stroke on Feb. 6 and died the following day.

She was 71.

Ms. Irwin and her husband, Richard Bachmann, formerly co-owned and operated A Different Drummer Books on Locust Street, behind City Hall. They sold it in 2010.

A university professor and a bookseller, Ms. Irwin most recently acted as the director of digital imaging collections with the Burlington Historical Society.

“She is going to be terribly missed for her expert work with the historical society,” said the Burlington Historical Society’s now past president, Les Armstrong.

“She’s been the driving force with our archives,” Armstrong said of Ms. Irwin, whom he said served the society for more than 20 years.

“She was really dedicated. She worked endless hours, all on a volunteer basis,” he noted.

Ms. Irwin also was involved with the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC, now called Heritage Burlington) and the Friends of Freeman Station, the latter a group of citizens dedicated to preserving, moving and restoring a century-old railway station.

Click here for Link

12. CBC Hamilton: The new souvenir of Hamilton - $2,500 turtles
Paul Wilson

The governor general himself came by to switch on the Gage Park fountain in 1927. It has fallen on hard times since. (
This restored turtle looks just the way he did back in 1927. (City of Hamilton)

Four years ago a cage went up around the Gage Park fountain, that beautiful limestone water sculpture designed several generations ago by John Lyle – the same architect responsible for the High Level Bridge in Hamilton, and Union Station and the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.

Fountains can be fussy. They need attention. The one in Gage Park needed a full overhaul.

This spring, $600,000 later, the work will finally be finished.

The fountain was switched on by the Governor General himself in 1927, part of Canada’s 60th-birthday celebrations. Children splashed, dogs lapped, grown-ups marvelled.

Lyle had worked the Escarpment itself into his design. It provided the backdrop for the fountain, and for the cascading waters that coursed from it along an elegant channel that flows towards Main.

The fountain was pretty as a postcard – and ended up on many.

Hard times

But over the past few decades, the fountain has fallen on hard times.

Part of it is age, aggravated by well-intentioned misdirections in maintenance.

Were there vandals in the 1920s? There sure are today. The fountain gets covered in graffiti over and over again. So city crews – and who can blame them– kept covering those f-bombs with non-permeable paint.

But that traps water within the limestone. Put it through enough freeze-and-thaw cycles and the stone begins to fall away.

And the water wasn’t gushing right anymore. Those pipes are old.

So the fence went up and Therese Charbonneau went to work.

She’s the city’s conservator on this project. She’s rescued many other pieces of Hamilton’s history. Statues, paintings, uniforms from the Great War.

Click here for Link

13. King Weekly Sentinel: King Council designates Shift
Angela Gismondi

Council moves to designate Shift sculpture

King council is planning to designate the Shift sculpture as being of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act

After many years of discussion and debate, the decision to designate was made at a Committee of the Whole meeting Feb. 25. Council instructed Township staff to draft a bylaw to designate the sculpture, which will protect the sculpture from being altered, destroyed or demolished.

Shift is an outdoor wall sculpture created by American artist and sculptor Richard Serra. Created in 1972, it is a collection of zigzagging pieces of concrete wall, built in six sections, across a vacant stretch of farmland in King City.

Click here for Link

14. Sault Star: Wynne and Wind Turbines
Elaine Della-Mattia

Wynne responds to wind concerns

The Ontario government supports green energy and is working to increase local control of clean energy projects, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne responded to a letter from Gillan Richards, executive member of Save Ontario's Algoma Region (SOAR), regarding the proposed Bow Lake Wind Project.

Richards says the proposed project will have a detrimental effect on tourism in the area and area residents in the rural area don't want to see the wind turbines create havoc on the natural beauty of the area.

The project, she argues, will turn the region's Canadian landscape, used in Canada's Group of Seven paintings, into an industrial power facility.

Wynne said the Ontario government is committed to protect the health of Ontarians and building a clean energy future.

“That is why we support the development of renewable energy, as it addresses our province's energy needs, creates jobs and aligns with our goal of closing all coal-fired generating stations in Ontario by the end of 2014,” the letter reads.

The two-page letter states the province will ensure communities are consulted about the green energy products and is working to provide increased local control in the energy projects.


Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

Its not clear how this commitment to more local input will apply to EA's that have already been approved over the screams of local communities.  

15. St. Thomas Times-Journal: AVSS under no immediate threat of closure, TVDSB

Arthur Voaden S.S.


Ald. Mark Cosens made a bold prediction during Monday's St. Thomas council meeting: Thames Valley District School Board is preparing to close Arthur Voaden Secondary School.

A representative from TVDSB, however, said Tuesday that's an incorrect assertion and the board has no immediate plans for the school's closure.

Cosens' comment stemmed from a correspondence from the board informing council Arthur Voaden has surplus space available for a third-party tenant.

The correspondence stated “the board has identified the spaces listed in Schedule A attached ... as being surplus to its current needs.”

Two pages later under Schedule A is a single line that reads Arthur Voaden S.S and its address.

Cosens said he interpreted the entire school being listed under Schedule A, “not part of it or this room or that room but the whole thing,” as a sign of a future closure for the Flora St. school.

“I just want it to be clear to the community, basically what they're telling us is, 'get ready, we're going to move and move out of another school and leave another school vacant,'” he said during Monday's meeting.

16. St. Thomas Times-Journal: City will not seek designation for Grace United Church
Nick Lypaczewski

Grace United Church


St. Thomas council voted unanimously Monday evening not to pursue an Ontario Heritage Act  designation for Grace United Church.

Ald. Gord Campbell dominated the discussion in an address that pushed 10 minutes.

Campbell said he's learned the building requires $300,000 to $500,000 worth of repairs and that the church's prospective purchaser – the church and purchaser had all but finalized purchase when the idea of designation was introduced – would back out of the deal if there was a designation.

Campbell went on to predict that a designation would effectively mean a death sentence for the Balaclava St. church as no new purchaser would likely come forward in the near future.

“If we proceed with designation, we will have another Alma College on our hands,” he said. “We will allow a building to be demolished by neglect.”

Click here for Link

17. St. Thomas Times-Journal: Slew of properties designated for list
Nick Lypaczewski

Our view is that 60 days is for second thought.

St. Thomas council made a move this week that put new protections on a bevy of historical properties.

During its meeting Tuesday, council received a listing of almost three dozen Talbot St. properties that will be placed on a register of non-designated properties, properties that are culturally significant but not officially designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

While not subject to the same restrictions as designated properties, owners of the Talbot St. buildings will be required to put in a 60-day notice before undertaking certain renovation work or tearing down a structure.

“Our view is that 60 days is for second thought,” Municipal Heritage Committee chairman Serge Lavoie told council.

“It’s an opportunity for municipal councillors and staff to engage with the owners to see whether or not there are alternatives to demolition or alternatives to removing the facade.”

Lavoie went on to tell council to expect further lists of up to 50 properties at a time during the coming months for the register.

Click here for Link

18. CBC Manitoba: Music Hall Reopens

Winnipeg's Royal Albert Arms rocks again

A Winnipeg punk and metal music institution re-opened Friday night as the Royal Albert Arms Hotel got back into business for the first time since shutting down in May 2011.

"We are a little nervous, we haven't done it in a long time," said the man behind the bar, Quentin Towns.

"We lived and slept in the place to try to get it re-opened."

A water pipe broke in May 2011, forcing the old watering hole to close. Then the boiler ceased to function and later that year the water lines and sprinklers froze.

But Friday, within hours of re-opening it was standing room only, musicians and music lovers happy to be back.

"I don't think anyone would ever want this place to be closed forever. It would be a real stab to the heart," said guitarist Johnny Sizzle.

Ryan Suche's band Hoarfrost was supposed to play the night after the pipe burst. "I'm looking forward to playing as soon as possible," he said.

The Albert turns 100 years old in November and organizers have plans to bring back bands from the 1980's and 1990's for the celebration.

Click here for Link

19. Heritage BC: Major Government Grant to strengthen Heritage BC
Heritage BC

$500,000 for Heritage BC Announced

The Government of BC is providing $500,000 to Heritage BC to support community heritage programs and help implement a new provincial heritage strategy, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson, announced in Kelowna on Friday, February 15, 2013.

The Heritage Strategy for British Columbia: Our Heritage, Historic Places, also released on Friday by Thomson, outlines the Province’s future plans to ensure B.C.’s historic places remain an active and dynamic part of B.C. communities.

Through the strategy, the Province is providing Heritage BC $500,000 to transform its business model. The funding will help strengthen the organization’s ability to deliver heritage planning and training services to communities and provide other heritage conservation services to support the preservation of historic places.

Click here for Link

20. Maclean's: Gander Airport
Nancy MacDonald, forwarded by Ken O'Brien

An airport that time, happily, forgot

April 23, 2007

For design aficionados, Gander's languishing air terminal is a forgotten modernist treasure.

A major rally was held at Newfoundland's Hotel Gander on March 25. Its subject was the Gander International Airport, a local legend whose fate looks grim. Expenses are outrunning revenue, and the quiet Newfoundland terminal could soon close. A 400-strong action committee has sprung up in response. Together with the airport authority, it hopes to convince Ottawa to step in. A couple of thousand Newfoundlanders rely on the airport and related businesses for jobs. But the small movement has also attracted the attention of a more unlikely group: architects, art historians and design aficionados, who consider Gander's forgotten terminal a national aesthetic treasure.

Most of the country knows Gander best as the spot where 38 commercial jetliners were grounded after 9/11, or as the erstwhile "Crossroads of the World" -- a critical refuelling stop for transatlantic flights in the '50s. But, designed in 1959, the airport is also the single most important modernist room in Canada, according to Alan C. Elder, curator of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

The mezzanine-level VIP lounge features chairs by Charles and Ray Eames and Danish design star Arne Jacobsen. Robin Bush, then among Canada's premiere designers, lent his iconic Prismasteel seating, in blue and grey, to the international lounge. The powder room features a row of Eames swivel chairs. Looming above the yellow-and-green geometric-patterned terrazzo floor is a 72-foot mural. Flight and Its Allegories is likely the biggest painting ever done by Kenneth Lochhead, a founding member of the Regina Five, influential artists who brought modernism to Canada, notes critic Robert Enright.

The glamorous, futuristic design was deliberate. In 1958, more than 400,000 passengers passed through these gates. For some, the terminal at YQX was their first glimpse of Canada. It was an introduction that often fell short of spectacular.(British novelist Christopher Isherwood recalled that Gander's "bare white waiting-hall, with its table of simple refreshments, seemed very much a frontier post.")But then Canada's airports were uniformly shameful. Saturday Night magazine pronounced them "among the world's worst." The Globe and Mail deemed them "squalid," singling out Gander.


Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

The next time you fly to NFLD, land at Gander! 

21. Winnipeg Free Press: Winnipeg's Arlington Bridge

Urban myth or reality -- Arlington Bridge's history is still fascinating

Stand in the middle of the Arlington Bridge in marrow-freezing winds and imagine the Blue Nile flowing below.

True, there's grimy freight cars and boxcars down there on railway tracks as far as the eye can see, but try to picture a warm and sunny day in the Sudan. In another life, the Arlington Street Bridge could have been looking down on the Blue Nile. Ahh, well.

"There's an urban legend that the Arlington Bridge was meant to go over the Nile," local blogging history buff Christian Cassidy told a pack of media and architects Sunday afternoon as he led a tour of the once-again endangered and apparently moribund bridge.

That's supposedly why the city got such a good deal back in 1910 from Cleveland Bridge of the United Kingdom -- 20 per cent below local bidders, including shipping the materials from overseas.

Cassidy suspects that while the Nile was too wide for a bridge, there is evidence it was meant to span the Blue Nile in the Sudan, and Winnipeg lucked out when that deal fell through.

In his blog West End Dumplings, Cassidy has chronicled the history of the bridge, which, a city report said late last month, needs to be replaced in less than 10 years.

That's hardly the first time that song has been sung about the bridge, said Cassidy -- the first time he could trace was in 1946, when city Coun. John Blumberg called for the bridge to be replaced.

In 1967, city council said the bridge was at the end of its functional life, and repeated that chorus in the early 1990s. The 1967 death knell coincided with a decade of considering a new bridge connecting Sherbrook with McGregor that never happened.

Each time, the city ponied up big bucks to fix the Arlington Bridge, Cassidy said.

Talk of spanning the rail yards at Arlington Street started back around 1905, when the city had a bridge on Main Street providing the only north-south streetcar connection in Winnipeg.

The Salter Bridge was wooden and rickety, and the grade-level crossing on McPhillips Street was way out in the countryside back then, he said.

Archibald McArthur, head of the city's bridge committee, envisioned Arlington becoming a second Main Street, the amateur historian related. It failed a couple of financing referenda before finally getting the green light in 1910 when packaged with other big-ticket projects.

The bridge was supposed to have decorative lights -- no, don't bother looking for the switch to turn them on, there was no money to install them -- and after construction delays, people were so 'browned off' only McArthur showed up to watch the first traffic go over the bridge, Cassidy said.

The streetcar tracks were ripped out in 1926 without ever having been used.

There was all sorts of squabbling between city bosses and the unions over running streetcars over the steep new bridge -- such squabbling, it goes without saying, is unknown-of today.

"They said it would be suicide taking a street-car full of people down the other side when there were through streets on either side," Cassidy said. The city even proposed, without success, stationing flag people at the foot of the bridge to stop vehicle traffic as street cars came down the steep incline.

"No streetcar ever ran over the bridge," Cassidy said.

Click here for Link

22. Boston Business Journal: H.H. Richardson's Hayden building reborn
Thomas Grillo

Photo Thomas Grillo. The restored Hayden building on lower Washington Street at the edge of Chinatown in Boston.

After being vacant and dilapidated for more than three decades, the 1875 Hayden building at the edge of Boston’s Chinatown has been restored.

As supporters looked on, Historic Boston, the nonprofit whose mission is to preserve culturally significant properties in the Hub, unveiled the $5.6 million restoration of the five-story building on lower Washington Street that was threatened with demolition. After purchasing the property in 1993 for $350,000, it took two decades to fix structural problems, restore the brownstone exterior, secure financing and renovate the space into four, 930-square-foot $4,000 per month apartments with ground floor retail space.

“This was a very unique opportunity,” said Kathy Kottaridis, Historic Boston’s executive director, at the grand opening on Thursday. “We acquired an unstable, fire damaged structure that was then in the middle of what remained of the Combat Zone. Today, it’s a completely different place.”

Click here for Link

23. New York Times: Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price

Jim Wilson/The New York Times - The main post office in Berkeley, Calif., includes a mural of the citys history painted by Suzanne Scheuer

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The lines are often long inside the Art Deco post office here under the palm trees. But few people complain these days when they visit that New Deal-era building.

They are glad to get their mail, send off a package and maybe chat a bit while they still can. In December, the government said it planned to sell it.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen to this beautiful, Depression-era architectural jewel,” said Sara Meric, 87, a retired script analyst who has used this post office since 1959. “If, God forbid, this slaughter does go through, some entity should make sure that this building is protected.”

The Santa Monica post office, with its distinctive PWA Moderne style, is one of about 200 post offices around the country, dozens of them architecturally distinctive buildings, that the Postal Service has indicated it may choose to sell in coming years because of its financial problems.

Eleven historic post offices are already on the market in places like Yankton, S.D.; Gulfport, Miss.; Norwich, Conn.; and Washington.

In many cases the buildings have not only been community hubs, but also remain among the most architecturally distinguished buildings in their towns, legacies of New Deal efforts to put America back to work.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:

Postal Service Looks to Sell Historic Buildings

Many buildings currently owned by the Postal Service are for sale, or are being considered for sale. Preservation groups say some of the buildings are architecturally significant and that their design elements and historic features should be protected.

24. New York Times:A Devotion to Wooden Churches

Richard Davies - Wooden churches in Russia that have survived over the years.

While communism, collectivism, worms, dry rot and casual looting failed to destroy the majestic wooden churches of Russia, it may be ordinary neglect that finally does them in. Dwindled now to several hundred remaining examples, these glories of vernacular architecture lie scattered amid the vastness of the world’s largest country. Just over a decade ago, Richard Davies, a British architectural photographer, struck out on a mission to record the fragile and poetic structures. Austerely beautiful and haunting, “Wooden Churches: Traveling in the Russian North” (White Sea Publishing; $132) is the result.

Click here for Link

25. The Atlantic Cities: 2012's Most Important Preservation Battles

Before we all rush into 2013, eager and excited to save even more places, we at the National Trust just wanted to reflect on our favorite successes from this year -- and hopefully hear what you accomplished in your communities as well. Share your biggest preservation successes in the comments.


Click here for Link

26. The Salem News / Developer seeks historic district certification - Would demolish 2 Beverly buildings

Staff file photo Windover Construction is in line to receive state and federal tax credits for restoring this former box factory on Pleasant Street in Beverly and turning it into veterans housing.(1 of 1)

Windover Construction has nominated the Beverly Depot-Odell Park Historic District for listing with the National Register of Historic Places, a program that recognizes buildings and areas worthy of preservation.

At the same time, the company has applied for permits from the city to demolish two historic buildings in the district, the former Hotel Trafton and the former Cushing’s Carriage factory, to make way for a new apartment building.

The area’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places would make Windover eligible for state and federal historic preservation tax credits for its project at 60 Pleasant St., where the company is turning a former box factory into housing for homeless military veterans. It would not prevent the company from knocking down the other buildings.

Click here for Link