Painted Ladies and Historic Buildings

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #66! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

Week 16/ 52

When I cycle or walk in downtown Toronto, I’m drawn to study buildings. Most building exteriors are in neutral colours so those that are painted in non-neutral colours with unique architectural designs stand out to me. Here are a few painted buildings that I found interesting:

Painted Ladies

The first two images show six private homes in ‘painted ladies’ style. They’re located in a neighbourhood known as The Beaches in Toronto. I love that although these houses are side by side, each is unique in their architectural details and exterior colour schemes.

In American architecture, painted ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings repainted, starting in the 1960s, in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details. The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians.

 'Painted ladies' trio.
First ‘Painted ladies’ trio
 'Painted ladies' trio
Second ‘Painted ladies’ trio
Close up of one of the Painted Ladies.
Close up of one of the Painted Ladies

P.J. O’Brien Irish Pub

P.J. O’Brien Pub is noticeable for the bright yellow and blue colour scheme on its exterior. Though the name of the place is P.J. O’Brien, it’s owned by the Quinn family. The building was completed in 1854.

P.J. O'Brien pub.

Many people come to the pub for Irish food served with pints of Guinness, and to have their photos taken beside the Guinness clock at the side of the pub.

Guinness clock at the side of P.J. O'Brien pub.
Guinness clock, P.J. O’Brien pub

Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse

The Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse, designed by the architect Kivas Tully, is a wooden 11-metre (36-foot) octagonal lighthouse. It projected red light, and along with a second, larger white light lighthouse, marked the entrance to the Toronto Harbour from 1861. It was deactivated in 1912.

Queen's Wharf lighthouse.
Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse

Today, the Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse is one of two surviving lighthouses in Toronto; the other being the stone Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Islands that I last mentioned here.

Gibraltar Point lighthouse.
Gibraltar Point lighthouse

Royal Alexandra Theatre

The Royal Alexandra Theatre, commonly known as the Royal Alex, is a theatre located near King and Simcoe Street in Toronto. Built in 1907 by the architect John M. Lyle, the 1,244-seat Royal Alex was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1986.

Royal Alexandra Theatre.
The Royal Alexandra Theatre

Constructed in 1906-07, this theatre is an intimate but lavish version of the traditional 19th century theatre, with two balconies as well as side boxes. John M. Lyle (1872-1945), one of Canada’s most distinguished architects of the 20th century, designed the Royal Alexandra Theatre following the Beaux-Arts style, thus providing an elegant setting for Toronto’s sophisticated theatrical and musical events. Since its rescue and rejuvenation by Ed Mirvish in 1963, when it was to be demolished for a parking lot, this theatre again plays a central role in the social and cultural life of the city.

Royal Alexandra Theatre plaque, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Royal Alexandra Theatre main doors.
Royal Alexandra Theatre main doors

The Royal Alexandra Theatre web site provides a virtual tour of its gorgeous suites, lounges and seating map. Attending a show at the Royal Alex is a special experience.

Have you heard of ‘Painted Ladies’? What do you think of the above buildings?

Shared with #CellpicSunday, #PPAC, #ThursdayDoors, #ThursdayTrios.

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99 thoughts on “Painted Ladies and Historic Buildings

  1. Denyse Whelan Blogs April 22, 2022 / 8:07 am

    This was a lovely post to read and view. I haven’t been overseas much but I did have a short tour of the west coast of USA in Jan 2006 and on a very rainy day took part in a bus tour of San Francisco and saw the Painted Ladies buildings that were used in backdrop of a family show. What I notice in your descriptions of buildings and architecture is our shared Commonwealth heritage where the words “Royal” may be used. We have many hotels with that name in country towns..”oh that person can be found at the Royal, having a beer every night. Thanks so much for sharing more of your city and its many items of interest! Denyse.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:22 pm

      Denyse, Your bus tour of San Francisco sounds great. San Francisco is a picturesque city with many painted ladies houses. I’m pleased you like my post. Thank you for joining me virtually.


  2. Alison April 22, 2022 / 8:44 am

    Beautiful houses and so big, very unique


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:24 pm

      I noticed that these houses have many windows. Thank you Alison for stopping by. Have a great weekend!


  3. Dan Antion April 22, 2022 / 8:51 am

    Oh my goodness, Natalie. I don’t know where to start. I love painted ladies, and I love a corner door on an Irish pub, and I love theater doors and – what’s more love than love – I love lighthouses!!! You have everything here. You get bonus points today.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:26 pm

      Dan, Thank you for the bonus points. I love getting them 🙂 You’ve got to visit Toronto one day. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dan Antion April 22, 2022 / 5:32 pm

        I would like to come back for a visit. Maybe when travel becomes easier to think about.


        • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:41 pm

          Yes, when travel becomes easier. The driving distance is not that far if you don’t want to fly.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. leannelc April 22, 2022 / 8:58 am

    Those painted lady houses at the beginning were so sumptious Natalie – I want to live in one! I just love that style of house and the architecture that goes into them – just beautiful.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:29 pm

      Leanne, These beautiful houses have access to a beach across the street so they’re worth a lot of money in today’s market. I’d love to live in one for an extended stay.


  5. Susanne April 22, 2022 / 9:06 am

    Those painted lady buildings are beautiful! Very colourful. And I like the details of the Irish pub. I can imagine there are a lot of Irish people in Toronto.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:33 pm

      Susanne, I’m pleased you like these houses. There are a lot of Irish people in Toronto. In the late 1840s, tens of thousands of Irish people migrated to Toronto during the Great Famine.


  6. Ally Bean April 22, 2022 / 9:45 am

    I know about the Painted Ladies because of the TV show Charmed. The witches lived in one, and it was gorgeous. I’d like to visit the Irish pub. Looks inviting.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:36 pm

      Ally, Oh yes, things that we learn from watching TV. The interior of the PJ O’Brien Irish pub is nice. I think you’ll like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Writing Sparkle April 22, 2022 / 12:04 pm

    The painted ladies are lovely. I don’t think I will ever stop being surprised by the wonder that is Toronto!


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:38 pm

      Shari, I’m pleased you like the painted ladies that I shared. I love exploring downtown Toronto and along the lake shore.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Janis @ April 22, 2022 / 1:24 pm

    It’s nice to see more modern buildings (at least they look rather new) being designed with an architectural flair. I love the Painted Ladies in San Francisco and enjoyed seeing to Toronto versions. Also, the pub and lighthouses… oh my! Great post!


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 5:43 pm

      Thank you, Janis. I’m pleased you like my post. San Francisco is a picturesque city, one of my favourites in North America. The Painted Ladies there are beautiful.


  9. Gary A Wilson April 22, 2022 / 2:39 pm

    Hi Natalie.
    Painting things, mostly houses is how I earn my college tuition money in the late 1970s. Part of this time I ran my own painting company and for part of that time I’d fallen in love with the painted ladies described in that book. I obtained a copy if the book and brought it each job bid. Hoping to sell that service to my customers in the greater Seattle area. For all my efforts, I had few who were interested in doing it to their homes.
    Oh well. I still love the audacious color schemes used and the final effect that a good job of this has on these older homes.
    Thanks for the quick visit back to my history.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 6:35 pm

      Thank you, Gary, for sharing your history. I think the owners of these Painted Ladies are smart to have their houses painted the way they are. The colour schemes increase the house appeal and their uniqueness.


  10. Thistles and Kiwis April 22, 2022 / 2:49 pm

    Like everyone else, really enjoyed seeing the painted ladies. I’m on a weekend break away, but will try and post a link using my ipad…


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 6:37 pm

      Thank you for linking up during your break. I’m pleased you enjoy the painted ladies. Have a wonderful weekend!


  11. rawsonjl April 22, 2022 / 2:55 pm

    I have definitely heard of the painted ladies though other than on TV I have never seen them. We have many colorful and historic homes in our local towns that are of the Victorian era and painted with flare and I just love seeing them,


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 6:40 pm

      How wonderful that you have many colourful and historic homes in your local town. I’d love seeing them and photographing them.


  12. Debbie April 22, 2022 / 3:56 pm

    Hi Natalie, this was a great post to read as I always learn something from you. For instance I would have thought the Painted ladies title would have been from a time well before the 1960s for some reason! I love the little lighthouse too.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 6:43 pm

      Hi Debbie, I’m glad you like my post and learn something new. I’ve also learned more about Toronto as I explore the neighbourhoods and visit historic sites.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Marsha April 22, 2022 / 5:46 pm

    What a grand post, Natalie. I echo Dan’s words. It has everything. The Painted Lady Houses definitely look reminiscent of San Francisco. And who doesn’t love lighthouses and painted buildings???? I just had a tour of our little Theatre in Prescott, which soon will be coming in my Prescott Downtown Series. It made your history lesson even more interesting and relevant. Ours was built in 1905, so same era. 🙂


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 6:47 pm

      Marsha, Thank you for your kind compliment. I’m pleased you like this post. I look forward to learning more about Prescott from your blog. I think your idea to have a Prescott Downtown Series is excellent. When I plan to go to Prescott, I’ll read all your posts in that series again.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Teresa April 22, 2022 / 6:15 pm

    The “painted ladies” are gorgeous 👍


  15. Lydia C. Lee April 22, 2022 / 7:02 pm

    What lovely architecture. Strange to see wooden buildings like that (for us). I saw Come From Away last year inbetween lockdowns…


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 7:23 pm

      I hope you enjoyed Come From Away.


  16. Jo April 22, 2022 / 7:05 pm

    I do love our virtual walks through your city – and adore the painted ladies. They’re beautiful examples. Have a lovely week.


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 7:25 pm

      Thank you Jo for joining me on a virtual walk. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the painted ladies. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ju-Lyn April 22, 2022 / 9:35 pm

    Oh my goodness! I am so taken by the name & idea of “painted ladies”. And the buildings are so charming! I love the colours they have used and the detailing does really highlight the windows and other features!


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 9:42 pm

      Ju-Lyn, I’m pleased you like these painted ladies. Whoever chose the paint colours for these houses did a fantastic job.


  18. Jill Weatherholt April 22, 2022 / 9:43 pm

    I had a difficult time scrolling past the lighthouses, Natalie. Gorgeous shots today! Thanks for the tour. Enjoy your weekend!


    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 9:50 pm

      Jill, I’m glad you like my post and photos. How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend!


  19. soma @ April 22, 2022 / 9:57 pm

    I love to look at architectures of building too. The only Painted Ladies I knew of until now are the ones in San Francisco. Great photos and thanks so much for sharing the info.



    • Natalie April 22, 2022 / 10:08 pm

      Thank you, Soma, for your visit and comment. The painted ladies in SF are lovely. Fortunately, we have quite a few of them in Toronto, too.


  20. Retirement Reflections April 23, 2022 / 1:27 am

    Hi, Natalie – I love the Painted Ladies. How cool it would be to actually live in one of those.
    I am also a big fan of The Royal Alex. Thank you for sharing them with us today.


    • Natalie April 23, 2022 / 3:41 pm

      Hi Donna, I took a virtual tour of the interiors of the painted ladies. They have all the modern amenities and look beautiful. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great weekend!


  21. restlessjo April 23, 2022 / 3:26 am

    Those painted ladies are beautiful in their own right. Toronto looks a colourful city, Natalie. Have a good weekend!


    • Natalie April 23, 2022 / 3:43 pm

      Jo, Spring brings fresh colours to Toronto. I’m pleased you like those painted ladies. Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. trentpmcd April 23, 2022 / 7:21 am

    Cool architecture. There are a few Painted Ladies in my small town, though people usually don’t call them that. In ways, my house might be considered that. Though older, it is painted in three colors. Glad the Royal Alexandra Theatre was saved in the 60s – coll old buildings like that need to be saved. Have a great weekend!


    • Natalie April 23, 2022 / 3:46 pm

      Good to know there are a few painted ladies in your town. The Royal Alex has been one of the major theatres in Toronto since it was saved.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Anne Fraser April 23, 2022 / 10:02 am

    I have never heard of painted ladies. I do like the fact that they have updated the old buildings.


    • Natalie April 23, 2022 / 3:48 pm

      Anne, The interiors of these painted ladies in Toronto have been updated to current amenities as well so they’re really beautiful inside and out.


  24. Deborah Drucker April 23, 2022 / 2:25 pm

    I am partial to painted ladies since I am a native of San Francisco and I love light houses. Great photos.


    • Natalie April 23, 2022 / 3:49 pm

      San Francisco is a beautiful city. I’m pleased you like my photos. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Tessa April 23, 2022 / 5:11 pm

    I love the color of these “painted ladies” and would love to see them in person. I kind of expect these type of houses near the water.


    • Natalie April 23, 2022 / 7:01 pm

      Yes, there is a wide, sandy beach and Lake Ontario across the street.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tessa April 29, 2022 / 5:20 pm

        Sounds beautiful. We have a place called river row I think they call it. It isn’t in my state, but I have been past it. The little houses are all brightly painted.


  26. csuhpat1 April 23, 2022 / 9:46 pm

    So very nice. I would love to have a drink at that pub. Very cool. Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful week.


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 9:01 am

      Thank you, Patrick, for joining us. I’m pleased you like my post. Have a great weekend!


  27. Maria April 24, 2022 / 12:37 am

    Buildings from different times, different styles of architecture, and different colours have always interested me as well. Beautiful post Natalie!


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 9:03 am

      Thank you, Maria. If the two of us go for a walk together, we’ll have lots to talk about, from architecture to colours, to photography, and more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maria April 24, 2022 / 9:37 am

        Indeed! It would be a lot of fun to do that. After following your blog for a while, I’ve come to think that Toronto seem like an appealing place to visit one day.


        • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 9:45 am

          Yes, come for an extended stay and explore the city. Most (if not all) of what I’ve been sharing on my blog are free to the public, and from a downtown resident’s lens.


  28. Astrid April 24, 2022 / 7:44 am

    I’d honestly never heard of “painted ladies”. Thanks for sharing these great displays of public art once again.


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 9:04 am

      Astrid, I’m pleased to share something new to you with you. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Antoinette Truglio Martin April 24, 2022 / 8:09 am

    Another fabulous tour. Thanks a bunch.


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 9:05 am

      Thank you, Antoinette, for your support. Have a great weekend!


  30. photobyjohnbo April 24, 2022 / 10:51 am

    Last fall, we visited the Painted Ladies in San Fransisco. Those Victorian row houses are spectacular with a fresh coat of “makeup”.
    I am always a fan of lighthouses, as well. Great post, Natalie!


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 1:30 pm

      John, How wonderful that you got to visit the Painted Ladies in SF. Lighthouses have great stories. Fortunately, Toronto has kept a few historic lighthouses in or close to its harbour and it’s easy for me to visit them.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Janet Alcorn April 24, 2022 / 12:53 pm

    Ooh, love the pics! I’ve always loved the Painted Ladies in San Francisco (I grew up about 60 mi east of there and visited fairly often). I didn’t know Toronto had similar.


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 1:32 pm

      Yes, we have a number of Painted Ladies here. The ones that I share in this post are right across from a wide, sandy beach and the shore of Lake Ontario.


  32. Melis April 24, 2022 / 1:36 pm

    Thank you for hosting us again 🙂

    I’m a big fan of pops of color and the individualism that can be shown through paint choices and love those Painted Ladies!!

    Our traditional architecture here in New Mexico is very beautiful in it’s own unique way but it definitely lacks in color choices 😉 Although, I do have to say that there’s something pretty special about seeing the old school turquoise windows from time to time ❤

    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead!


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 5:11 pm

      Thank you for linking up, Melissa. I imagine New Mexico has more earthy colours and turquoise is a beautiful accent. Have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Melis April 24, 2022 / 8:55 pm

        Yes, definitely earthy. The goal is for the homes to blend into the landscape 🙂 The turquoise on the windows is to protect from evil spirits! I do love my home state ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  33. I. J. Khanewala April 24, 2022 / 9:42 pm

    Beautifully painted ladies. That pub catches the eye, doesn’t it?


    • Natalie April 24, 2022 / 9:55 pm

      Thank you IJ for your visit and comment. The pub’s bright colour and clock attract many people.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Julie April 25, 2022 / 8:48 am

    I had no idea that Painted Ladies was a style because I think of the San Francisco houses since I am from California. In Los Angeles, we have many different architectural styles. We even have Victorian homes in some neighborhoods — some were built from the ground up. In my area, the Victorian homes were originally from downtown LA and the pieces were repurposed. I’m sure at the time it was a big house, but now they’re office buildings.


    • Natalie April 25, 2022 / 9:40 am

      Now you know the style name of those houses in SF (Postcard Row or Seven Sisters).


  35. notesoflifeuk April 25, 2022 / 12:06 pm

    I haven’t heard of ‘Painted Ladies’ before, but those are wonderful buildings. I would so love to visit Toronto again.


    • Natalie April 25, 2022 / 12:53 pm

      I hope you get to visit Toronto again soon.


  36. kirstin troyer April 25, 2022 / 6:10 pm

    Those painted lady houses are cool. I have never heard of that term. I’m not sure I could live so close to someone else.


    • Natalie April 25, 2022 / 6:19 pm

      There are pros and cons living in a big city where land is scarce.


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