Rather than brick and beam warehouse chic, there are some loft conversions that offer more luxurious settings and exceptional finishes, appealing to buyers who want both vintage style and modern conveniences. Loft conversions can crop up in even the finest neighborhoods, such as this stately old High Park heritage home. The Gothic Heritage Estate at 32 Gothic Avenue in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood is a three floor heritage home converted into luxury lofts with a total of just seven units.
The big old home is located almost right across the street from High Park. The lofts offer New Orleans-style wrap-around balconies, hardwood floors and fireplaces. The old mansion at 32 Gothic Avenue, across from High Park, was converted to lofts by Gothic Heritage Estates Limited (Don Desrochers) in 2004.
The exterior of the building has been little altered since the last time work was done – in 1907. The strategy of the developer was to maintain this appearance (with the exception of the rear addition) and to repair the fabric of the old mansion in accordance with stated heritage principles, while making interventions where necessary to provide access, light and ventilation for the new lofts.
The only types of units available at these lofts on Gothic Avenue are all two bedrooms with two full bathrooms and a powder room. The sizes of all the units at the Gothic Heritage Estates range between 1,200 and 1,600 square feet. Maintenance fees cover the water charges, building insurance, common elements and outdoor parking charges. The owners pay for their own electricity, heating, central air conditioning, internet, cable television, home telephone, as well as insurance on their own belongings and any upgrades to their suites and units. Costs are kept down as there are no amenities in the converted house except for a security system in the building as well as being allowed to use barbecues on your balcony.
The house itself is a West Toronto landmark. It was built in 1889 for George Johnston St. Leger, the second mayor of the West Toronto Junction. St. Leger was an alert gray haired Irishman in his early sixties, who some years before had settled in Toronto and engaged in the retail shoe business. He also made some profitable real estate deals and served on Toronto city council. He retired to the Junction where his choice of a site for a suitable home for his family was Gothic Avenue. Originally number 30 Gothic Avenue, it was a large site suitable for the large house which he proceeded to build, complete with carriage house and stable and a driveway surmounted by an arch inscribed “Cead Mille Falthe” the old Irish for “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes“. The owner named his pretentious home Clendeboye after a spot that had been dear to him in Ireland.
The original design was by architect H.G. Paul and it was modified by Ellis and Connery with their 1907 addition. The house is built high on a hill and overlooked the ravine that led down to Grenadier Pond. At the time, one could see the above ground stream that led to the pond and Lake Ontario.
When Mayor D.W. Clendenan decided not to run for a second term in order to contest the local seat in the provincial legislature, St. Leger was the popular choice to replace him. St. Leger’s mayoralty was short lived as Clendenan was spectacularly defeated by Dr. Gilmour and St. Leger stepped aside for D.W. to return as Mayor. St. Leger is remembered for his rhetorical question “What politics is there in a piece of sewer pipe?” and that when asked to turn the first sod of the Keele St. underpass extension, he opted to get behind a team of horses and plow the first furrow.
The High Park Sanitarium was created following the purchase in 1906 by Dr. William J. McCormick of the house that was now at number 32 Gothic Avenue. The High Park Mineral Baths were located adjacent to the sanitarium, variously known as 1962 Bloor Street West and 2000 Bloor Street West. The “Minnies” they were to become commonly known.
The first baths were an oblong shape, and used by the patients of the sanitarium. They were subsequently reconfigured into a pair of adjacent rectangular 50 x 100-foot pools when the baths opened for public access in 1913. The pool was advertised at the time as the largest open air tank in Canada, with a capacity of 150,000 gallons. The baths were supplied by a pair of artesian wells, one 80′ deep, the other 650′ deep. The water was heated to 72°F, constantly filtered and chlorinated. At the time, the baths were at the terminus of the street car line, making access quite convenient.
The pools were operated until 1962, when they were closed to make way for the underground work of the Bloor subway line. From 1922, the sanitarium was rented by Dr. McCormick to Saratoga Hospital, while 32 Gothic Avenue was rented to Strathcona Maternity Hospital (I have actually spoken with someone born there!). Later, Clandeboye was occupied by the High Park Youth House, a charity working with disadvantaged youth in Metro Toronto. In the nineteen forties and fifties the house became Strathcona Hospital, a maternity hospital, where many local luminaries first saw the light of day.
The Gothic Heritage Estate lofts are close to all major amenities including parks, hospitals, public transportation routes, major highways, grocery stores, retail shops and indoor malls. The park is obviously High Park to the south across the street on Bloor Street West. The major medical needs of the area are serviced by St. Joseph’s Hospital to the south, as well as Toronto’s Western Hospital to the southeast on Bathurst Street. The closest public transportation options include the High Park Subway Station a short walk away, as well as the GO Train station at Dundas Street West. The Gardiner Expressway can take you east to the Don Valley Parkway or west to Highway 427 and the QEW. Grocery stores include No Frills and Loblaw’s as well as Freshco all within two kilometres of the lofts. The closest indoor malls include Cloverdale Mall to the west, Yorkdale Mall to the north, and even the Eaton Centre east on Yonge Street.