Friday, January 20, 2012

Bishop's Block Returns/Adelaide and Simcoe/Then and Now

Dismantled for condo construction, the facade of the Bishop's Block is being re constituted. A small portion was visible through the scaffold this past weekend.
Bishop's Block on the N/E corner of Adelaide and Simcoe circa 1890. Built in 1833.
According to Patricia McHugh in her excellent book "Toronto Architecture-A City Guide"
"These two brick and stucco row houses are Toronto's oldest example of the genre. though now sadly bereft of their three original sisters and most of their Georgian dignity as well. Joseph Bishop was a butcher who built these houses for speculation."
Bishop's Block some time in the late 1960's when it operated as the Pretzel Bell Tavern.
1983. Photo by Patrick Cummins.
The remaining houses of the block shortly before demolition.
Sadly, since the book was written, the remaining two houses were torn down last year to make way for more condos. The developers are supposed to re-build the original facades and incorporate them into the new structure.
The city did conduct an extensive archeological dig at the site.
Details can be found here.
The resurrected facade has now been revealed.
The front.
When demolition started I was lucky enough to spot this old hand painted sign (Harv's Hang Inn) that had been covered up for years and managed to liberate it...
Bishop's Block as seen in 1856.


  1. Great Post GBC. It's nice to see this building not just getting destroyed in the name of "progress". Keep up the good work.

    Do you know what type of siding was used at the top in the resurrected facade?

  2. Thanks for the response. I don't know the answer...
    Could be composite material. Today's wood doesn't have the longevity of the original old/slow growth pine etc.

  3. Does anyone know why the Pretzel Bell sat empty and neglected while the "theater district" was being revitalized?

  4. I can't rally say. I know that when I went to OCA in the late 70's early 80's that part of town was a virtual ghost town after 6:00pm and on the weekends. I'm sure the building was in pretty rough shape and the owners were just hanging on waiting for the future.
    It actually costs a lot of money to demolish a building. I'm sure it was vacant for at least 20 years.

  5. The bricks are all wrong, folks, and there is no excuse for it. The use of a mix of black and white painted bricks among unpainted bricks give it an inauthentic speckled-trout look. The wide morter joints. All wrong. For a comparison look at the repointing and repair work done to the Winchester in Cabbagetown. Someone - the architect? the bricklaying contractor? - messed up in a serious way. An opportunity lost. Someone has to say something or it will happen again.

  6. You're right but as Rick McGinnis has pointed out elsewhere these heritage re-builds are just facsimilies cobbled together to give the impression of their former selves.

  7. FYI those bricks are the original bricks, not replacements