Toronto Architecture Spotlight: Casa Loma

11.13.20 | Architecture

Toronto Architecture Spotlight: Casa Loma

It’s been called Canada’s Camelot. Casa Loma, the Gothic Revival mansion that draws 350,000 visitors every year, is truly a sight to behold.

This stunning attraction—just a short drive from Forest Hill—remains one of the city’s architectural highlights. From both an aesthetic and historical perspective, it’s well worth exploring.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Casa Loma and its architecture…

The Basics

The original visionary behind Casa Loma, wealthy financier Sir Henry Pellatt, drew up plans for his “House on the Hill” in 1911. The Kingston-born millionaire had a fondness for castles, and the one he envisioned would become one of the most majestic homes on the continent.

Pellatt commissioned renowned Canadian architect E.J. Lennox to make his dream a reality. Lennox was responsible for designing Old City Hall, among other notable buildings in Toronto.

After $3.5 million dollars were put into it (that’s estimated to be somewhere around $75 million in today’s currency), Casa Loma was complete. It was filled with works of art and opulent furnishings—and served as the perfect place for many lively social events.

Architectural Details

Casa Loma has undergone restoration efforts over the years, and they’ve paid off. If you explore this 98-room marvel—along with its grand exterior and glorious garden—here’s what you should look out for:

• Spanish marble and mahogany horse stables (currently home to a collection of period cars)

• An intricate sandstone and brick facade, featuring towering decorative turrets

• A massive library with a ceiling that bears the Pellatt coat of arms

• The conservatory, which features bronze and glass doors and a stained glass roof

• Secret passageways and an 800-foot underground tunnel (which now serves as a photo exhibit)

Gothic Revival Style

The extravagant Casa Loma is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture. This ornate style was extremely popular in Canada during the second half of the 19th century. It’s typified in many of our country’s most historically-significant churches, universities, museums, and other public buildings.

As the name suggests, Gothic Revival architecture harkens back to the Medieval period. Common details include steep gabled roofs, pointed arches, and elaborate stonework. It took three years, but many of the features that made this style so unique came to life during the construction of Casa Loma.

The Legacy

Not long after the passing of his wife, Henry Pellatt had to give up his dream home due to debt. In the ensuing years, it was reinvented as a luxury hotel, then a nighttime hotspot. Finally, the City of Toronto took ownership.

The extravagant structure near the corner of Spadina and Davenport has left an indelible mark. In fact, it remains as lively now as it was in the early 20th century. In recent years, it’s hosted countless tours—along with events ranging from Halloween haunted houses to symphony performances. It’s also home to BlueBlood Steakhouse, which offers fine-dining experiences in an environment that both honours and reimagines the building’s heritage with modern decor.

There’s no doubt that Casa Loma is a true architectural and historical gem. Whether you live in Forest Hill, Yorkville, the Annex, or beyond, this is one Toronto attraction you’ll want to explore.

Looking for an architecturally-significant home? Get in touch to learn how we can help you buy a truly spectacular property.

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