The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The Glebe is a fabulous loft conversion of the architecturally magnificent Riverdale Presbyterian Church, located in prime Riverdale

History of The Glebe Lofts

Completed in 2004, The Glebe is a fabulous loft conversion of the architecturally magnificent Riverdale Presbyterian Church, located at 660 Pape Avenue, in prime Riverdale and just steps from the subway.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The main entrance of The Glebe Lofts retains all the elegance of the historic church

Very rarely does an opportunity come along to live in history. Designed by renowned period architect John Wilson Gray, this imposing architectural building is now retrofitted, entirely within the existing envelope, into only 32 astonishing multi-level loft residences.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

Another angle, showing the Pape Avenue frontage, with the east-facing balconies

(N.B. John Wilson Gray passed shortly after completion of the church addition, it was his last project. Interestingly enough, he had designed two other Presbyterian churches before this – St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and Bathurst Street and Barton Avenue, and the better-known Knox Presbyterian Church on Spadina Road near Harbord Street.)

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The Riverdale Presbyterian Church as seen in 1908, shortly after construction

Erected in 1921-22 as an expansion of the original 1907 Riverdale Presbyterian Church, this loft conversion pays homage to the soaring height of the original sanctuary in all of its two storey primary living spaces, featuring large open plans that flow with the building space.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The Sunday school addition is visible to the right of the original church building

Each loft was designed to optimize the dramatic effects of light and spatial volume. They incorporate solid masonry walls, new windows, superior thermal and acoustical insulation, individual high efficiency heating systems, all new electrical and mechanical systems – plus a host of luxury features.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The final church building, as it would have appeared in 1922 or later – and as it mostly appears today

The Gothic revival building featured high ceilings and exposed steel trusses. In the third storey lofts, the steel trusses remain exposed, providing visual interest and reminding us of the building’s original function. While that use has changed, the units benefit from the church’s spatial qualities.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

Get into the top floors of The Glebe and you will find some of the iron trusses installed during conversion

Authentic lofts are unique living spaces by definition, but those in churches of architectural merit are even more exceptional. The Glebe Lofts is historic landmark that retains its brick façade and large arched windows, while the interior was divided up, for the most part, into one and two-storey lofts.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

Almost every unit in The Glebe Lofts is spread over more than one level

The Glebe’s life as a distinct Presbyterian entity on Pape Avenue began in a chain of events in the years 1906, 1907, and 1908. The first meeting of the exclusively Presbyterian Sunday school was held in a tent in the middle of an orchard at the corner of Pape and Harcourt Ave. on September 26, 1906. Nearly a year later, on August 4, 1907, Riverdale became an “ordained mission field” of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The original church building was dedicated on December 15, 1907, and Riverdale officially became a congregation of the PCC on January 15, 1908. The first minister, the Rev. J.A. Miller, was not inducted until September 17, 1908.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

While some of the lofts in The Glebe look the same as the day they were converted, others have been renovated very extensively

Growth in this new area of Toronto was very rapid, and the congregation quickly outgrew its original building, which sat 300 people and had cost $3,500 to build. In 1912 the cornerstone was laid for a new Sunday school building. This new addition, costing $23,000 and seating 700, was dedicated on May 18, 1913.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

There are a number of cleverly concealed balconies and outdoor spaces at The Glebe

Growth continued, and within just six years, still more space was needed. On October 31, 1921, the cornerstone was laid for a new sanctuary to replace the original part of the building. This massive new sanctuary, which was dedicated on September 3, 1922, cost $125,000 to build and had seating space for 2,600 people.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

As I have mentioned, many of The Glebe Lofts look a lot like townhouses inside

The changing demographics of the north Riverdale area, however, led to a slow decline in numbers. On a positive note, many former members of Riverdale church moved out to congregations in the suburbs and continued work there. But the loss of members meant that the congregation increasingly struggled to meet the demands of upkeep on such a large church building. On June 2, 1991, the congregation held a celebration Sunday to mark the closing of the large sanctuary, and worship was moved into the Sunday school wing.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

But open spaces and catwalks abound!

A long process of discernment followed, and eventually, the southern portion of the building was sold for development. This sale, in large part, funded the complete renovation of the old Sunday school wing, and on April 13, 2003, the renewed building was rededicated. It is from this building that the congregation continues to reach out to the Pape and Danforth community.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

There is the occasional small terrace attached to ground floor lofts

The Glebe Lofts were born from this series of events, with the actual lofts completed in 2004. Converted by Bob Mitchell, who is responsible for many of the famous early Toronto lofts, the 4-storey building is home to just 32 hard lofts ranging in size from around 1,000 to over 2,200 square feet. These multi-level lofts were constructed entirely in the original building with no additions to accommodate the conversion.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

I think the developer did a great job of hiding the entrance to the underground parking right in plain sight

Most of the suites at the Glebe Lofts feature 14-foot ceilings and incorporate thermo-pane windows and skylights to take full advantage of natural light in the open plans inside. Exposed steel, hardwood flooring and most suites with terrace or balcony are just some of the features. The historical uniqueness is really the thing most likely to attract prospective loft buyers to this particular spot, as it is a true hard loft conversion in a very old building.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

Tree top views from the higher level lofts

One of my main complaints, though, is that you almost cannot tell that you live in gorgeous old church. Sure, the units are spacious and multi-level, but they feel more like townhomes than lofts. There aren’t many original elements left inside… which kind of defeats the purpose. To create living space inside a large empty church, they needed a whole lot of drywall. But compared to The Abbey Lofts, which ooze character, I think Mitchell failed here. Mind you, most of his conversions are more like townhouses and lofts. His projects are usually multi-level and mostly drywall.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The Toronto skyline looks amazing from Riverdale Park

For those not familiar with Bob Mitchell, his company Mitchell & Associates is a design/build firm that has been converting old buildings throughout Toronto since the early 1980s. In 1982 they designed, developed and built the first legal loft conversion in Toronto at 41 Shanly Street, previously the Dominion Felt Company, and won the Ontario Renews Award in 1984 for that project for excellence and innovation in design.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

Some of the cool streetscape along Queen Street East

Historical living in a neighbourhood like this is pretty rare as well. Located at 660 Pape Avenue, steps from the subway and the vibrant cosmopolitan shops, restaurants and coffee houses of the Danforth, close to the downtown and the cultural heart of the City, The Glebe Lofts offer a unique lifestyle for character, location, design features and value anywhere in Toronto.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

A local landmark, the Riverdale Zoo

Living in Riverdale puts you close to everything. The Chester and Pape subway stations offer easy public transport, vast green spaces like Withrow and Riverdale Parks provide nature and recreation. On The Danforth you will find boutique shops, cafes and purveyors of fresh produce dot the streets in full support of a pedestrian lifestyle. There is colour and conversation on every corner.

The Glebe Lofts – 660 Pape Avenue

The Glebe Lofts on Pape Avenue has also become a local landmark

Located a block south of The Danforth on Pape Avenue, this exceptional loft conversion in a former church is situated in the heart of prime Riverdale. Around the corner from gyms, a couple of Starbucks and a myriad of sundry, home furnishing and fashion retailers, this dramatic loft offers a top-notch location in one of the city’s favourite neighbourhoods.

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