The Hepbourne Hall Lofts are housed in the Gothic church manse extension to the Dovercourt–St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church that was converted into 21 lofts in 1990 by Bob Mitchell. This makes it one of the older loft conversions in Toronto. With most dating from the 2000s, some from the 1990s and only a select few from 1982-1990. And most of the original conversions were done by Mitchell.
If any loft in the city truly epitomizes Toronto, Hepbourne Hall is it. The building wasn’t just used for Sunday school classes — the 1940s Maple Leafs used the gym for off-season training. And those same hardwood floors are in the lofts today. Conn Smythe was a church elder and even taught Sunday school there. How much more Torontonian can you get?
Dovercourt–St. Paul’s was built in 1905, near the corner of Bloor and Dovercourt, in a area with many many churches. In fact, the church across the street was converted a few years back into The Church Lofts and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin & St. Cyprian north across Bloor has taken a long and winding road to becoming the luxury lofts of West 40.
The congregation that gave us the church that gave us the addition that became Hepbourne Hall was created from merger of Dovercourt Presbyterian and St. Paul’s in 1968. In 1993 they merged with Dufferin Street Presbyterian to become St. Paul’s Presbyterian.
The original St. Paul’s began in 1914 when Erskine Presbyterian (though dating as far back as 1838 as First United Presbyterian, then Bay Street Canada Presbyterian Church) joined the congregation. Dovercourt Road Presbyterian originally met as the Mission of Chalmers Church, located north of Bloor and Dovercourt. The present (and best-known) building was constructed at Hepbourne and Dovercourt in 1905. Merged with St. Paul’s Presbyterian in 1968 to form Dovercourt-St. Paul’s, then with Dufferin Street in 1993 to become St. Paul’s. The church is presently used by a Portuguese Presbyterian Church. The Dufferin Street Presbyterian Church is also being converted, though there have been trials of a biblical proportion. The fire of 2014 really set the conversion of the church into the Sanctuary Lofts back by years. Still available to purchase, the developer is gamely pushing through.
Both Dovercourt Road Presbyterian and the Dufferin Street church were designed by architect William R. Gregg. He was born in Belleville and trained as an architect in the office of Smith and Gemmell from 1871-76. While he and his brother Alfred were in partnership for about 10 years around the turn of the 20th century, the majority of his career as an architect was spent in independent practice. His other church commissions include St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Thorold (1883-84) and the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto (1889).
Simpson and Young designed the 1910 addition that now houses the Hepbourne Hall Lofts. Small world, they also designed an addition to the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church on Dunn just south of Queen. I almost helped them convert and sell that church as lofts a bunch of years back. Too bad it never happened, that place is amazing. One of Henry Simpson’s more famous commissions is the old Parisian Laundry Company Building at King & Portland, now the Scholastic headquarters.
Interestingly, Hepbourne Street was named “Hepburn” in 1903, but was renamed Hebourne by 1910. Not sure where the original name came from, or why the spelling was changed. And the 1910 Goad’s map doesn’t yet show the addition, though it is clear on the 1913 version, labeled “Sunday School”. And Dovercourt Road started out as Dover Court Road, at some point having the space removed.
The Hepbourne Hall Lofts enthusiastically reveals its lengthy history. Several units feature the original (albeit cleaned, sanded and relaid) hardwood gym flooring that the 1940s Leafs exercised on. Stone turrets and Gothic arched leaded windows were lovingly restored and are showcased throughout the building.
The lofts range from one storey to three storeys, with layouts from a rather tiny 575 square feet up to massive 2,200-square-foot three-bedroom units. Some of these unique units feature raised floors under the bedroom or den, or sunken living rooms, while other suites offer the luxury of private walk-out terraces. With only 21 units, they don’t come up for sale all that often.
Located in the trendy Bloorcourt neighborhood, living at Hepbourne Hall means enjoying all that this community has to offer. New restaurants, stores and cafes are constantly moving into the area, giving you endless culinary and retail options. Dufferin Grove Park is only 4 blocks away, a beautiful green space in the heart of the city. Be sure to check out the local organic honey, or the fresh bread baked right in the park’s wood-fired oven, never mind all the fresh fruits and vegetables of the Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers Market.