Category Archives: Condos for Rent
The Masonic Hall Lofts are Toronto’s most central hard lofts. Converted in 2007, the lofts feature original brick walls, 20-foot ceilings and massive skylights. There aren’t many units here, and they don’t come up for sale. Ever. The heritage Masonic Hall Lofts are right between Bloor and Wellesley – you can’t get much more downtown than this. Literally steps the subway, all that Yonge and Church Streets have to offer, restaurants, shopping and more.
Was for sale in 1997 for $849,000 – for the ENTIRE building! That would buy one of the lofts these days… Then in 2001 Puffin Developments Ltd. listed it for $2,195,000. The building was 21,570 square feet of all commercial leases at that point. The penthouse had 22-foot ceilings! They dropped the price to $1,750,000 but still found no takers. Then there is nothing on MLS until the only unit ever listed was listed 4 times with no sale. Land registry shows 7 units on the 3rd floor and 6 on the 4th floor. But they all seem to be owned by the same people… as if they owned them all and rented them out. I have heard that this is more of a rental building than somewhere you can buy. Maybe this is the case. Yet the building is Toronto Condo Corp #1894, so it is certainly a condo according to the city. And I showed unit 403 to clients back in 2008 – the only unit ever listed for sale. The developer is a numbered company, so there is nothing further down that path. The names associated with the property on land registry are also dead ends, thus I will not mention them, as they do not seem to be public figures. But it appears that the same buyer bought from the same seller every time. They are not developer-owned, as we all thought. So there’s that.
But there is a long and storied history we can talk about! The gorgeous Romanesque Revival Masonic Hall Buildings are one of the few surviving commercial blocks in Toronto that originally incorporated a Masonic Hall, reflecting the prominent role of freemasonry in the development of the city. Its design blends architectural features from a number of stylistic influences popularized during the Victorian period, which are executed with a high degree of detailing and capped by a landmark tower on the southwest corner. It was the tallest building on Yonge Street for years.
The façade is also characterized by its decorative cornices and brackets, as well as the especially fine woodwork and metal detail of the shop fronts. The facade of brick masonry with stone trim, and the variety of fenestration are good examples of later Victorian architectural style. Also of note are the cast iron and metal work of the shop fronts; the inscribed stone tablet on the façade reading “Masonic Hall Buildings 1888”; and the association of the building with the Masonic Order of Scottish Rite.
The history of the site dates back to June of 1853, when Plan 81 is registered on the lands along the north side of Gloucester Street, east of Yonge Street. The 1858 Boulton’s Atlas shows the site still vacant. In the fall of 1867 Charles Levey acquires Lots 2-4 on the northeast corner of Yonge and Gloucester Streets and then commissions the pair of houses presently located at 8 & 12 Gloucester Street in 1868. Levey occupied one of the houses and rented the other to dry goods merchant Timothy Eaton, who resided there for nearly a decade while he established the forerunner to his famous department store. Alexander Patterson, who operated a grocery business at 287 Yonge Street, acquired the entire site with the open space on Yonge Street and Levey’s houses in 1874. The 1878 City Directory first records Patterson as the occupant of 10 Gloucester and the 1880 Goad’s Atlas illustrates Patterson’s property prior to the construction of present-day 2 Gloucester.
In 1888, Alexander Patterson received tenders as well as a building permit (City Building Permit #123) for “seven detached three storey brick stores” on the northeast corner of Yonge and Gloucester. That same month sees Patterson’s new stores referenced in an issue of The Canadian Architect and Builder. A couple of months later, Patterson gets a mortgage on the property for $17,000. Patterson’s unfinished buildings are recorded in the City Directory in 1889, and in 1890 the new complex is listed in the City Directory and first illustrated on Goad’s Atlas.
Patterson reserved the upper floor of the complex for the Scottish Rite Freemasons, an arrangement later confirmed in land records and announced on the building in a nameplate reading “Masonic Hall Buildings 1888”. As a branch of the semi-secret fraternal order that originated in English medieval stonemason guilds, this group was specifically formed to teach the first three of the 33 degrees of freemasonry. The Scottish Rite Freemasons used the premises in the Masonic Hall Buildings until 1918 when the branch relocated to the custom-built Masonic Temple at Yonge Street and Davenport Road.
The Masonic Hall Buildings at 2 Gloucester Street were designed by architect Richard Ough. Little is known about Ough’s early life and training, although he resided and practiced in California for nearly twenty years before opening a solo office in Toronto in 1885. His initial work comprised a hotel, summer pavilion, railway station and residences for the Long Branch Grove summer resort in Etobicoke. In the city, Ough accepted a commission for the British Hotel (1887) at King Street West and Simcoe Street before undertaking the Masonic Hall Buildings. By 1892, Ough was working in the United States again, where “Glen Hurst”, one of the original houses he designed in the Palisades neighbourhood of Washington, D. C. is a recognized heritage property.
Patterson resided in the westerly semi-detached house at 10 Gloucester Street until 1908. The property stayed in the family until 1958, when Patterson’s estate sells the property. It had declined severely by the time the Masonic Hall Buildings were thoroughly rehabilitated by Adamson Associates as Gloucester Mews in 1972. The following year, in 1973, Toronto City Council lists the property at 2 Gloucester Street on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties. And then in 1982 the property is designated under Ontario Heritage Act. Finally, in 2007, the building becomes Masonic Hall Lofts.
Directly north of the Masonic Hall Buildings, a six-storey commercial block was commissioned by land developer Robert Bustard and completed in 1915. Behind (east of) the Robert Bustard Building and now numbered as 18 Gloucester Lane, the Lionel Rawlinson Building stands. The Masonic Hall Buildings and its neighbours create a unique heritage enclave of surviving 19th and 20th century structures.
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write every article, some are reproduced here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.