Description of Historic Place
The building at 270 Gladstone Avenue, commonly known as St. Anne's Church, is situated on Gladstone Avenue at Langemark Avenue in the City of Toronto. The two-storey brick building was designed in the Byzantine Revival style by architect William Ford Howland and was constructed in 1907-1908.
The property is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property is also designated by the City of Toronto under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 440-80). St. Anne's was designated as a National Historic Site by the Government of Canada in 1996.
Located near the corner of Gladstone and Langemark Avenues in the Toronto neighbourhood known as Parkdale, St. Anne's Church is a prominent local landmark. West of St. Anne's Church Hall is St. Anne's Towers, an apartment complex for seniors. Gladstone Street is mainly residential, however the Cadbury chocolate factory is located across the street from St. Anne's between Gladstone and Dovercourt Avenues. St. Anne's is located near the major intersection of Dundas Street West and Dufferin Street.
St. Anne's Church is representative of the development of the Anglican community in the west end of Toronto and is associated with Canon Lawrence Skey (1867-48) and three members of the Group of Seven (J.E.H. MacDonald, F.H. Varley and Frank Carmichael). By 1888, the original St. Anne's Church building had expanded three times to accommodate the growth of its congregation. In 1905 Skey proposed that a new church be built on the site to accommodate the rapid growth. The guidelines for the new church were that it had to be well ventilated, have a clear view of the altar from all areas and have excellent acoustics. The guidelines also stipulated that the stained glass windows had to be re-used in the new design. Ford Howland (1874-1948) won the competition to design the new church. Howland designed a Byzantine Revival building with a cruciform plan, and a dome that was inspired by Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Construction started in 1907 and the new St. Anne's Church officially opened on October 15, 1908.
Fifteen years after the building was constructed, the mural designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, a personal friend of Skey's, was added to the interior. MacDonald, Varley and Carmichael completed the elaborate paintings along with Thoreau MacDonald, Neil Mackechnie, Arthur Martin, S. Treviranus, H.S. Palmer and H.S. Stansfield. Canadian sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle also contributed works to the interior. MacDonald and Varley completed more than half of the main illustrations. The art represented a revival in the medieval tradition of mural decoration and was characteristic of the Arts and Crafts movement which combined fine arts with architecture. Architect William Rae oversaw the necessary repairs made during the interior decoration and advised MacDonald about how the design would impact on the building. St. Anne's is an unique example of Group of Seven art designed for a religious purpose.
St. Anne's Church is the only Anglican Church in Canada built in the Byzantine Revival style and was built with buff bricks produced at the Don Valley Brickworks. The interior cruciform plan is enhanced by a large, distinctive dome that is over 23 metres high. A pendentive rises from four massive columns, which were constructed of wood, rendered with plaster and painted to look like Caen stone, to support the large octagonal dome. St. Anne's has two domed bell towers and a half-domed chancel. The decorative elements on the pendentive, apse, transept and nave depict 21 works of religious art. The ceiling of the apse is painted blue, over which is painted a vine leaf pattern with clusters of grapes rendered in gold leaf. On the ceiling, there are rondels depicting ancient Christian symbols. Between the chancel windows, there are a peacock and an urn done in plaster relief. A frieze from Matthew 11:28-29 surrounds the bottom of the dome.
Source: OHT Easement Files
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of St. Anne's Church include its:
- rare use of the Byzantine Revival style in an Anglican church
- compact massing
- buff brick cladding
- hip slate roof
- central copper-clad dome
- domed towers with tall ventilators on the east side of the building
- three paired doors at the main entrance with bronze-clad with bas-relief
- semi-circular arched openings
- engaged columns
- ancillary windows
-hemispherical mural cycle
- cruciform plan with non-petrine (east to west) orientation
- seven sided apse at the west end of the church forming the chancel and sanctuary
- barrel-vaulted transepts and nave with groin-vaulted connecting spaces
- semi-spherical dome with its elaborate decorations
- four round wooden faux-finished pillars with simple capitals that support the dome
- arcaded balustrade at the front of the chancel
- plaster walls with decorative paintings
- timber floors
- wooden pews
- stained glass, some of which was retained from the previous church
- stone altar
- local landmark status and value in the Toronto community of Parkdale
- location in a predominately residential neighbourhood