Description of Historic Place
The property at 220 Cowan Avenue, known as Masaryk Hall, is situated near Queen Street and Lansdowne Avenue in the City of Toronto. It consists of a two-and-a-half storey brick building that was originally two buildings (212 and 224 Cowan Avenue). The building, formerly known as 212 Cowan, was designed in the Edwardian Mannerist interpretation of Jacobean Revival style by architects Darling and Pearson. It was constructed in 1898. The building formerly known as 224 Cowan was designed in the Beaux-Arts style, by R. McCallum, and was constructed in 1905.
The exterior, select elements of the interior and the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1982). The property is also designated by the City of Toronto under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 72-86).
Located in the neighbourhood of Parkdale, Masaryk Hall is in close proximity to Queen Street and numerous other historic buildings, conveying a cohesive design, including St. John's Church, St. Mark's Anglican Church, the Parkdale Bell Telephone building and numerous Victorian storefronts and houses.
Masaryk Hall is significant for its numerous associations with Parkdale community activities. Its uses included a curling club, roller skate rink, dance academy, tennis and badminton club, memorial institute, fire hall and community centre. The south building, formerly known as 212 Cowan Avenue, was built in 1898 as the Parkdale Curling club. In 1907, it was converted to an indoor roller skating rink. In 1915, it was renamed the Pavlova Dancing Academy and became a popular local dance hall. In 1936, the building was purchased by Reginald E. Cole, and though the Pavlova name was retained, the structure came to be used as a tennis club. Following this, John Inglis Co. Ltd. leased the building as a recreation centre for its wartime employees, and from 1945 until the building was acquired by the City of Toronto in 1979, Masaryk Hall was used by the Czechoslovakian community. It was named the Masaryk Memorial Institute, in memory of Tomas Masaryk (1850-1937), Czechoslovakia's first president. The building formerly known as 224 Cowan Avenue was built in 1905 as the Cowan Avenue Fire Hall. It operated as a fire hall until 1972 when the City of Toronto converted the building into a community centre. In 1985, it was physically linked with 212 Cowan Avenue and the conjoined buildings became known as 220 Cowan Avenue. Since 1987, the building has been known as the Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre.
Masaryk Hall is significant for its Beaux-Arts and Edwardian architectural styles and for its use of advanced "turn-of-the-20th century" engineering. The building formerly known as 212 Cowan Avenue, built in 1898, was designed in the Edwardian style with abstracted Jacobean Revival mannerism by the influential Toronto architectural firm of Frank Darling (1850-1923) and John Pearson (1867-1940). It is unusual for its combination of industrial and institutional architecture, containing eight hinged steel arched trusses, that span the roof of the recreation hall, demonstrating the latest such technology for the time. It is believed to be one of the first buildings in Canada to use this technology. Two-and-a-half storeys high, the street façade is built of smooth-faced red brick with raked mortar joints in a simplified Classical form, symmetrical, with two massive chimney elements and a strong fascia line. An ogee curve conceals the pitched roof behind. A large round headed blind arch lies between the two battered chimneys and contains a centre louvered roundel. Flanking the central portion of the façade are two slightly projecting false facades each containing a door and two square headed windows, recessed within semi-elliptical arches, above which is a row of eight small windows, five of which are blind, framed between drip coursing.
The building, formerly known as 224 Cowan Avenue, was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by architect R. McCallum as a fire hall. Built in 1905, the two-and-a-half storey smooth-faced red brick façade is flanked by two single bay wings and capped by a pavilion hip roof of slate shingles. The central bay projects slightly and has a smooth sandstone façade on the ground floor with large openings (former garage doors) above, flanked by two rows of brick banding, three central windows with engaged columns and a large projecting sandstone framed Palladian dormer window in the third floor, that continues into the façade and appears supported by four large brackets. A window on the ground floor of the north flanking bay of the façade has three sandstone keystones and a single columnettes with a small round-headed knob, which acts as a mullion.
Source: OHT Easement Files.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Masaryk Hall include its:
- Edwardian architectural style with abstracted Jacobean Revival
- smooth-faced red brick with raked mortar joints
- two battered chimneys
- ogee curved fascia concealing the pitched roof
- round headed blind arch
- louvered roundel set within the blind arch
- two slightly projecting false facades flanking the battered chimneys
- square headed windows recessed within semi-elliptical arches
- fenestration of the projecting false façade with eight windows, five
of which are blind
- Beaux-Arts Renaissance Revival architectural style
- smooth-faced red brick façade
- pavilion hipped roof with slate shingles
- slightly projecting central portion of the façade
- smooth sandstone of the ground floor
- brick banding of the central portion of the façade
- three windows set between engaged columns
- projecting sandstone mullioned Palladian dormer window
- brackets supporting the Palladian window
- three sandstone keystones of north bay ground floor window
- columnettes with a small round-headed knob acting as a mullion of the
north bay ground floor window
- eight two-hinge trusses that support the gym roof suggesting a strong connection to industrial architecture
- location in Parkdale, a historic Toronto neighbourhood
- proximity to other historic buildings in Parkdale including St. John's Church, St. Mark's Anglican Church, the Parkdale Bell Telephone Exchange building and numerous Victorian storefronts and houses