Tag Archives: British Queen Anne Style
The Annex is one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods and its first streetcar suburb, characterized by its distinctive tall narrow houses and lively community along Bloor Street. Considered a food and shopping mecca, this district is well known by Torontonians as one of the friendliest neighbourhoods in the city.
Due to the proximity of the neighbourhood to the University of Toronto and Central Technical School with it’s famous art school The Art Centre – there is a large population of students and faculty, the commercial strip along Bloor Street has quite the feel of a college neighbourhood (albeit an affluent one). Most of the commercial activity in the neighbourhood takes place along Bloor St, which is filled with small restaurants, pubs and bookshops.
The side streets are generally residential, with tall, narrow townhouses to the south of Bloor and large, stately mansions to the north. The borders of the neighbourhood are, to some extent, debatable, however, less so than many other neighbourhoods in the city. The eastern and western boundaries are generally agreed to be Avenue Road and Bathurst Street respectively… and the southern boundary is generally agreed to be Harbord Street. It is the northern boundary, however, that is in question.
Generally, the northern boundary is considered to be Dupont Street, due to the fact that the area immediately north of Dupont, on either side of the railway tracks, is a largely industrial area, which is not in keeping with the general view of the Annex as being a neighbourhood of stately homes and quaint bookshops.
The Annex is mainly residential, with tree-lined one-way streets lined with Victorian and Edwardian homes and mansions, most of them built between 1880 and the early 1900s. The 1950s and 1960s saw the replacement of some homes and mansions with mid-rise and a handful of high-rise apartment buildings. These were surrounded with landscaped green spaces in an attempt to better fit into the neighbourhood.
Most Annex houses built between 1880 and 1910 are fine examples of Victorian, Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque architectural styles. Plum and pink colored Credit River sandstone, rich red brick and terra cotta clay tiles make up the exterior facades of many of these homes.
The architectural detail is among the finest in the city, ranging from pyramidal roofs and turrets to recessed grand archways and wooden spindled porches. There are more than a few coffee table books devoted solely to photos of the house in The Annex.
A second wave of Annex homes dates from 1910 to 1930. These homes are less elaborate than their predecessors, but are nonetheless fine examples of English Cottage, Georgian and Tudor style architecture.
Some of architect Uno Prii’s most expressive, sculptural apartment buildings are located in The Annex. Because of its proximity to the university, The Annex has a high rate of seasonal tenant turnover, and its residents range from university students to older long-time residents.
The stretch of Bloor Street between St. George and Bathurst is a vibrant social and mixed use area, offering a wide range of services from upscale dining to discount retailers like Honest Ed’s, in buildings which often include residential space in upper floors. The stretch of Bloor between Bathurst and Christie is Toronto’s Koreatown. During the 1950s and 1960s, an influx of Hungarian immigrants moved into the neighbourhood after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was suppressed, and many of the businesses and properties along Bloor are owned by Hungarian-Canadian families.
The Annex is home to many examples of a uniquely Torontontonian style of house that was popular among the city’s elite in the late nineteenth century. Examples of this style survive in the former upper class areas along Jarvis and Sherbourne Street and also within the University of Toronto campus. Most of these buildings are found in The Annex, and the style is thus known as the “Annex Style House”.
The original conception is attributed to E.J. Lennox, the most prominent architect in late nineteenth century Toronto (old City Hall). His 1887 design for the home of contractor Lewis Lukes at 37 Madison Avenue introduced a design that would be imitated and modified for the next two decades.
The Annex style house borrows elements from both the American Richardson Romanesque and the British Queen Anne Style. Annex style houses typically feature large rounded Romanesque arches along with Queen Anne style decorative items such as turrets. Attics are emphasized in the exterior architecture. The houses are most often made of brick, though some also incorporate Credit Valley Sandstone. Built for many of the city’s wealthiest citizens, the houses are also large. As the wealthy moved away from the neighbourhood, many of the houses were thus subdivided into apartments.
European settlement of this area began in the 1790s when surveyors laid out York Township. The area east of Brunswick Avenue became part of the village of Yorkville, while the region west of Brunswick was part of Seaton Village. In 1883, Yorkville agreed to annexation with the City of Toronto. In 1886, Simeon Janes, a developer, created a subdivision which he called the Toronto Annex. The Annex area became part of Toronto in 1887 and Seaton Village joined Toronto in 1888.
First residents of the area included Timothy Eaton, patriarch of the Eatons Department Store, and George Gooderham, president of Gooderham & Worts Distillery. The Annex’s first Golden Era lasted until the early 1900s, when the upper classes began to migrate northward above the Davenport escarpment to newer more fashionable suburbs in Forest Hill and Lawrence Park.
In the 1960s, the proposed Spadina Expressway would have divided the Annex in half. Annex area residents, along with other resident groups, successfully opposed its construction.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
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