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George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada

186 Beverley Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1976/11/06

General view of the George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada, showing the front façade, 1983.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1983.
General view
General view of the George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada, showing a side façade, 2005.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2005.
General view
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Other Name(s)

George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada
George Brown House
Maison George-Brown

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1875/01/01 to 1877/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/03/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada is a three-storey Victorian residence located at the corner of Beverley and Baldwin streets in the heart of downtown Toronto. The proprety includes a red brick mansard-roofed house with carved stone trim and a elegant cast iron garden railings, built for George Brown, a Father of Confederation. The house, where George Brown spent the end of is life, now houses a museum, a meeting space and offices. The designation refers to the house on its lot.

Heritage Value

George Brown House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1976 because:
- it was the home of George Brown, a Father of Confederation; and
- it is arguably the site most intimately associated with the Abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad History in Toronto.

The heritage value of George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada lies in its association with George Brown and through him with the achievement of Canadian Confederation as well as with the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. The historical associations are carried by the house itself in both its location and physical properties.

This house was built for George Brown 1875-1877 and occupied by his family from 1877-1886. Brown lived here in retirement until his death in 1881. At the time he lived here, Brown was owner and editor of The Globe newspaper, a Senator and a Father of Confederation. Brown and his family also had played a central role in the Abolitionist movement whose Canadian activity centered in Toronto. Brown himself was personally involved in the lives of many Underground Railroad refugees. The house has been restored by the Ontario Heritage Foundation and is open for public visitation.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1976.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of the site include:
- its location in central Toronto;
- its setting on an urban residential lot with lawns and garden separating the house from the street;
- its rectangular three-storey massing, L-shaped footprint and mansard roof;
- its sophisticated Second Empire design with a three-bay façade and central entry; its surface variation through recessing central bay on façade, use of stringcourse; Italianate decorative elements such as bay windows and the heavily sculpted window and door surrounds, heavy bracketed cornice, and elaborate dormer windows;
- the substantial nature of its exterior materials (red brick with stone trim);
- the craftsmanship evident in its composition (carved stone and elaborate wood trim);
- the integrity of the symmetrical interior plan;
- surviving materials, forms, and finishes of interior furnishings, fittings and surfaces from the Brown period;
- the workmanship and materials of the cast iron fence.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1976/11/06

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1875/01/01 to 1881/01/01
1877/01/01 to 1886/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Politics and Political Processes
Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Residence
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

533

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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