Rumor has it legendary heavy-weight champion Larry Holmes sparred upstairs, while for more than 60 years, countless strikes were bowled in the lanes below. Today, the heavy bags are long gone and the alleys are silent. But the Academy Lanes building on Queen Street East (between Brookmount and Rainsford Roads), just west of Woodbine Avenue, was born again in 2003 as lofts.
Said to have been built in 1913, it does not show up on the 1913 Goad’s Map. Possibly it was too late to make the printing, but my guess is that it came later than people think. It has also been said that it was originally an armoury, though not sure how that would be possible, as the area was mostly wilderness until the early 1900s, with nothing being built there until after 1913.
Many others before Holmes had practiced their fancy footwork on the premises, however. The establishment started out as a bowling alley and dancing academy, built and owned by William Moore, one of the first home builders in the Beach area. Moore bought the site at 1852-54 Queen Street East in 1920 when it was a Ford dealership and service station, according to granddaughter Joan Rasmussen.
Owner William Humphries Moore had emigrated from Ireland with his 10 children and originally lived in the west end of the city. The stonemason, who worked on Toronto’s Old City Hall, moved to the Beaches in 1906. By 1923, he was running the bowling alley, with a dancing academy upstairs. It appears that he gave the business up in 1927, for whatever reason, no one knows. The lanes were shut down in the 1980s and for the next 20 years the building had a variety of uses, including an arts centre.
Academy Lane Lofts gets its name from its former use as the Academy Lane Bowling Alley. It now rises 4-storeys above Queen Street East and houses twelve very unique single and multi-level lofts. The building was originally only 2 storeys, with the third and fourth floors newly built on top of the original building. Developed in 2003 by Streetcar Developments, it was one of the first projects Les Mallins attempted (along with the Beach House Lofts next door).
It is one of the only loft conversions in the Beaches, rebuilt and converted to lofts in 2003. The integration of the older building is well done; you can see bits and pieces of the original brick walls in the halls, as well as some wooden beams and other exposed parts of history.
The building was vacant and abandoned when purchased by Streetcar. But their conversion to the Academy Lane Lofts changed this once desolate corner in The Beaches into a vibrant hub of trendy retail and modern living spaces. Along with Beach House Lofts next door, Academy Lane Lofts won the 2009 Toronto Urban Design Award for “Building in Context, Private Mid-Rise.”
The lofts feature exposed beam construction, over-sized windows, and gourmet kitchens with granite countertops. The lofts range from 863 to 1,701 square feet and many feature a balcony or terrace. Academy Lane Lofts was one of the first condos in Toronto to use an innovative stacked parking system. Toronto really needs more quality infill developments like this.
This loft’s ideal location offers you a great opportunity to live the Toronto Beaches life. Enjoy a stroll on one of the area’s many beaches; or wander through Kew Gardens, the big park leading south from bustling Queen Street. Queen East is where you will find innumerable specialty shops and restaurants. The picturesque side streets are lined with Victorian and Edwardian homes, side by each with modern infill houses. And make sure to find time to check out the Fox Theatre, Toronto’s oldest operating movie theatre!