Visiting City Halls and Courthouses

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #24! 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.

It’s been a good week with lots of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Much needed rain came and gone on Monday afternoon. Over the years, the original City of Toronto had a total of four City Halls. On one of my cycling and walking excursions, I visited all of them, plus a historic courthouse.

1. St. Lawrence Hall

Toronto’s first City Hall: From the time of the City’s incorporation in 1834 until early in 1845, the Council met in a building at King and Jarvis Streets. The building was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1849. Following the fire, architect William Thomas designed St. Lawrence Hall in the Renaissance Revival style in 1850. It stands on the site today and was designated a National Historic Site in 1967.

St. Lawrence Hall.
St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East.

2. South St. Lawrence Market

Toronto’s second City Hall: From 1845 to 1899, the seat of City government was located at Front and Jarvis Streets, in the South St. Lawrence Market. The City’s Market Gallery now occupies the 19th century City Council Chamber on the second floor of the Market.

South St. Lawrence Market.
South St. Lawrence Market, 92-95 Front Street East.

3. Adelaide Court

Adelaide Court was designed by the firm of Cumberland and Ridout and built in 1851-1852 in the Greek Revival style. It served as York County Court House from 1852 until 1900, when the courts moved to “Old” City Hall. It currently houses Terroni restaurant.

Adelaide Court.
Adelaide Court, 57 Adelaide Street East.

4. Old City Hall

Toronto’s third City Hall, known as Old City Hall, was designed by Toronto architect Edward James Lennox. It took more than a decade to build and was officially opened on September 18, 1899. The civic building in the Romanesque Revival style contained a Council Chamber, courtrooms and municipal offices.

Old City Hall.
Old City Hall seen behind the Freedom arches at Nathan Phillips Square.
Old City Hall main entrance.
Old City Hall main entrance. Note the words Municipal Buildings above the arches.

Old City Hall at 60 Queen Street West was the home of the Toronto City Council from 1899 to 1966 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1984. When Toronto’s fourth City Hall opened in 1965, Old City Hall became a Provincial courthouse.

5. Toronto City Hall

Toronto’s fourth and current City Hall at 100 Queen Street West was designed by Finnish architect, Viljo Revell. His design was divided into three main parts: The podium, the convex circular council chamber and two office towers of differing heights. The building was opened on September 13, 1965.

Toronto City Hall.

On September 13, 2020, Toronto City Hall turns 55 years young. This virtual tour highlights its history and many features of the building, including a peek into the Mayor’s Office and views from the 27th Floor Observation Deck.

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had the pleasure to see the interiors of all of the above buildings. During the pandemic, St. Lawrence Market is opened with public health protocols in place. The other four buildings are closed to the public. I look forward to their re-opening day.

Linked to #ThursdayDoors, #LifeThisWeek.

How well do you know your municipal buildings and their history? I’d love to hear your comments.

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