historic Properties

Unlike areas of Toronto where entire neighbourhoods of beautiful Victorian buildings have been razed to make way for progress, Upper Jarvis has retained elegant homes, many of which have been beautifully restored by residents and business owners who value their architectural worth. We are justly proud of our heritage.   Here are some of our historic properties and their backgrounds

Massey House

515 Jarvis Street

Massey House was constructed in 1868 by Willima Young and remodelled by G.M. Miller.  The Masseys were the most influential family in Toronto’s industrial and philanthropic history.  Massey House is also referred to as the Arthur McMaster House or the Hart A. Massey House, and is a good example of a Gothic-style mansion.

On November 12, 1975 it was designated an historical property by the Council of the former City of Toronto. The mansion is currently occupied by the Keg Steakhouse.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church

Sherbourne & Earl Street

Our Lady of Lourdes is the only church in Toronto with a dome, and it is one of the most ornate churches in the city.

The architect of the building was F.C. Law.   Construction of the church  in 1884 cost approximately $45,000.  The land on which the church is situated is known as St. John’s Grove.

Jarvis Collegiate

Jarvis & Wellesley

Jarvis Collegiate was named after the street, not in honour of William or Samuel Jarvis.    It was Toronto’s first secondary school in 1807.  When the school opened, it was not actually on Jarvis Street because the street did not exist yet.  The school was first named The Home District Grammar School since the Toronto area was called a home district.

In 1873, the name was changed to Toronto Collegiate Institute and then, in 1888, the name was altered yet again to Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute.

William R. Johnston House

571 Jarvis Street

This elegant structure, locally known as The Grey Lady, was completed in 1875 and commissioned by William R. Johnston, co-owner of Livingston, Johnston and Company, which specialized in manufacturing of wholesale clothing. The residence was designed by the Toronto architectural firm, Langley and Burke.

William R. Johnston lived in the house with his family until 1916.

Between 1941 and 1970, the residence was converted to offices for the National Council Y.W.C.A., by architect Gordon West.

In 1983, Grey Lady Corporation took over the residence. and in the 1990’s it housed the law firm of Ian Outerbridge.   In 2000, Casey House acquired the property and runs its outreach services from the house.

Mary Perram House

4 Wellesley Place

This house was constructed in 1877 for widow Mary Perram.  The architect is unknown.  We know that Mary Perram lived at 505 Church Street from 1874-1876, then lived at 4 Wellesley Place until 1878. After this date, according to City directories, she no longer lived at a Toronto address.

Structural evidence indicates that the house was constructed in two phases. This is evident from differences in ceiling heights and an exterior wall inside the structure.   From 1909 to 1913, Mary Perram House stood vacant. In 1913, Commander Frederick Law acquired the property.   It was then sold to the Sisters of Service in 1923. Between 1923 and 1925, 4 Wellesley Place operated as a hostel for immigrant women. Then in 1950 the Sisters of Service used the house as a residential club for girls

By the early 1970s, another change of ownership took place. Princess Margaret Hospital opened offices and research facilities on the property.

Until 2005, the White Light Hospice operated out of the house. The hospice continues, now known as Perram House.

James Cooper Mansion

582 Sherbourne

In 1881, we know that this property was in the hands of Charles Soper, a tailor.   Between 1881 and 1882 James Cooper, a Toronto importer, manufacturer and retailer of shoes, was responsible for commissioning the construction of the house and by 1882 he resided here.  The resulting eight bedroom mansion reflects the area’s then-affluent prestige and the City of Toronto has designated this handsome house as a heritage property on account of its age and Second Empire architectural style.

In 1910, the Knights of Columbus bought the property for $26,500 and operated it until 2005, after which it was brought by the developler, Tridel.

In exchange for height and density increases, Tridel preserved the historic house and moved it forward on the property to maintain its connection with Sherbourne Street.     The move was billed as the “largest structural move of a single family home” in Canada’s history.  The house weighed approximately 800 tons.

Selby Hotel

592 Sherbourne

The Selby Hotel is an 1880s Victorian Mansion, and was constructed in 1882-83 by David Roberts. One of the sons of the founder of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery lived on the property for some time (exact dates unknown).

Between 1900 and 1905, the property served as the Keeley Institute: “Sanitarium for the Scientific Treatment and Cure of Liquor and Drug Addiction”. In 1910, a multi-room complex was added to the mansion and it was transformed into an exclusive girl’s school called Branson Hall.

Five years later, in 1915, the property was converted into a residential hotel. Ernest Hemingway and wife Hadley lived at the hotel for a period of time in the 1920s.

At the moment, the mansion is operated by the Clarion Hotel chain, and is known as the Selby Hotel. An addition to the original building has created a total of  82 guest rooms.

Casey House

123 Isabella

Casey House was the first hospice in the world designed for people with AIDS.

The facility founded by June Callwood and named after her youngest son, opened on March 1, 1988, and  began a working relationship with St. Michael’s Hospital.   The original facility was housed in two properties on Isabella street, one a coach house and the other a Victorian bay and gable.  Later the foundation acquired “The Grey Lady”, a large Victorian mansion at the corner of Isabella and Jarvis Streets (please see notes on the William R. Johnston House – 571 Jarvis Street).   Casey House Foundation now has plans to build a new tower on the site of the coach house and the parking lot to its west.