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Globe and Mail:Gordon Adamson's Hobb's House, Rosedale,
Dave LeBlanc | March 5, 2018

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Hobbs Sun House brought International Style to Toronto's Rosedale

The Hobbs Sun House, Rosedale, Toronto. Rear elevation. Historical photos, c. 1945.

The Hobbs Sun House in Toronto, c. 1945. UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY, The strikingly modern, 3,000-square-foot home was designed for the president of Hobbs Glass

To architecture buffs, firsts are important. Which villa was Andrea Palladio'sfirst? Could we pinpoint the very first Queen Anne home? Since Art Deco existed before Paris's 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, which buildings defined the style? Were the exhibition homes of the Weissenhof Estate in 1927 Stuttgart the very first International Style homes?

While there are no Palladian villas in Canada, we can claim a rich history with many architectural movements, including the International Style. Honest, stripped of ornament, and with walls of sheet glass made possible by 20th-centurytechnology, it was born in 1920s Europe and given its name by architects Philip Johnson and Henry Russell Hitchcock for their groundbreaking 1932 Museum of Modern Art exhibition in New York.

While the International Style's Canadian heyday was certainly the post-Second World War period, a handful of progressive Canadians were thinking about it before the war; most consider the first soul brave enough to turn it into bricks-and-mortar to be artist Bertram Charles Binning. A 1932 graduate of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, in 1939 the art teacher designed a small, open-concept home in North Vancouver that, according to Donald Luxton & Associates in a 2017 conservation report, acted "as a catalyst for the Modern movement in Canada." (Indeed, in 1997 the house became a National Historic Site of Canada.) He moved in in 1941.

In Toronto, while the 1922 Ashley-Crippen house in Moore Park may have been first to reject ornament, its massing and punched windows keep it firmly rooted in the Art Deco realm. To find floor-to-ceiling glass, such as Binning's, we must travel to Rosedale for the 1944 "Hobbs Sun House."

Located in Rosedale, the Hobbs Sun House

The Hobbs Sun House was designed by architect Gordon Sinclair Adamson for Clare F. Wood, president of Hobbs Glass.


Editors Notes: Dave LeBlanc is really on a roll lately, 3 excellent carefully researched articles. When the Rosedale HCD district was done, there were not resources to do detailed research on every property, which is why such an important house was given a C rating. The C rating often means "we just don't know".
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