Gladstone Hotel (Toronto)

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The Gladstone Hotel

The Gladstone Hotel was built in 1889 and named after Gladstone Avenue, next to the hotel. The Parkdale area hotel is a west Toronto landmark designed by local architect G.M. Miller in the Romanesque Revival style.

Address[edit]

The Gladstone Hotel is located 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

History[edit]

The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. It was originally built in 1889 as a stylish hostelry across from the then existing Parkdale railroad station which serviced the Grand Trunk, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and the Canadian National Railway (CNR) companies. In addition to serving the three major railway companies it also provided visitors attending the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) a place to stay.

The original owner, Susanna Robinson, was a widow who operated and lived at the hotel with her 13 children.

A report appeared in the Toronto Star on October 3rd, 1911, indicating that the Gladstone was soon to become the property of an incorporated company. The owner at that time was Mr. Victor E. Gianelli.[1] Interviewed by the Star, Mr. Gianelli stated that the deal had not yet been closed, but the plan was to increase the size of the hotel and improve the facilities.

An article published in the Star on December 27th, 1912, indicated that the Gladstone Hotel had changed hands again, and that the Gladstone Hotel Company, of which Mr. Thomas Slattery was manager, had purchased the Gladstone hotel property from Mr. Gianelli for $110,000. Mr. Slattery had earlier purchased the license for $60,000. It was reported that extensive alterations were to be made to the property.

Throughout the years the hotel was passed from owner to owner and gradually deteriorated in both status and physical appearance. In 2000 a group of developers decided to attempt to rescue this once-luxurious hotel. The Tippins and the Zeidler families combined forces but arguments between the two families regarding how to approach the restoration project resulted in the Zeidlers becoming sole owners of the hotel in 2002.

The Gladstone was named for Gladstone Avenue, which was named after British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone. The hotel's monthly newsletter, the Gladstone Bag, is named for the suitcase style, also named for William Gladstone.

The Gladstone was one of the first ten hotels in Ontario to receive permission to allow patrons to drink and play shuffleboard in a licensed alcoholic area. At one time the Gladstone Hotel was the last place to obtain hard liquor before reaching Hamilton.[citation needed]

Architecture[edit]

The hotel was designed by George Miller, the architect of the Lillian Massey building of the University of Toronto, many other public buildings in the city, as well as a large number of formerly grand residential buildings in the Parkdale neighbourhood. The building permit was issued in September 1889 for a value of $30,000.

The Hotel was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style - in the period a popular style for public buildings such as train depots, churches, and libraries. The architectural style of the Gladstone is characterized by the rough cut stone and brick and by the dramatic arches over the windows and porch entrances. The Hotel tower is also characteristic of the style. The cupola was removed in 1930 due to disrepair.

The Gladstone is a fine example of a Victorian Hotel with intact plaster moldings in the grand hallways. The two restored pillars in the hotel's Melody Bar are unique in Toronto in that their faux marble finish was rendered in true European fresco technique. No other architectural pillars such as these exist in Toronto. The meticulously restored Victorian elevator is one of the last hand-operated elevators in Toronto

Zeidler Partnership and Eb Zeidler were the architects for the historic restoration of the hotel.

Recent History[edit]

The Gladstone Hotel is still owned by the Zeidler family. Their historic restoration of the property reflects the hotel's architectural and community history. Eberhard Zeidler was the architect involved while resigning for his two of his three daughters, Margie and Christina. Margie Zeidler originally bought the hotel and made arrangements to have her sister manage the hotel. Christina Zeidler's personal philosophy of how a hotel should fit naturally with the existing community has definitely manifested itself in the case of the Gladstone Hotel. The owners invited local artists to compete in a competition. The main objective was to create a functional hotel room that brought in a main concept or idea. The result was 37 one-of-a-kind hotel rooms from the winning proposals.

The Zeidler family was concerned about the well-being of the existing residents of the hotel and took an interest in supporting them and helping them find new homes in the community prior to beginning the restoration project. The family provided financial support and the employees at the hotel worked to find homes for the most elderly and at risk. Some of the former residents now live at the Parkview Arms Hotel, down Queen Street beside Trinity Bellwoods Park.

The Gladstone kept its bar and event venue spaces open and operating throughout the restoration process in order to maintain community and neighbourhood connections.

Come Up To My Room[edit]

In 2004, the Gladstone began hosting Come Up To My Room, an alternative design exhibition showcasing new and established local art/design talent, co-founded and co-curated by Christina Zeidler and Pamila Matharu. It is run annually as part of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, during Toronto Design Week. For the eleventh edition (Jan. 2014), CUTMR was billed as "Toronto’s largest alternative design show."[2][3]

Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel[edit]

A documentary film, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel, was created by Last Call Productions as a portrait of the effects of urban renewal on the poor, as the Gladstone was being converted from a skid row flophouse to arts and music hotspot. It was shot over a span of five years, showing that the developers' plan for a gradual restoration with staff and residents remaining upstairs, while downstairs the bar serves designer drinks to new, affluent clientele didn't work. City inspectors demanded a complete rewiring, the boiler blew up leaving the hotel without heat, ceilings leaked, walls crumbled and management had to cope with this reality.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

Coordinates: 43°38′34″N 79°25′37″W / 43.642683°N 79.427°W / 43.642683; -79.427