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|Type||Mansion; Established as museum in 1937|
|Architectural style||Gothic Revival|
|Address||1 Austin Terrace
|Current tenants||Liberty Entertainment Group (Since 2013)|
|Owner||King of Toronto|
|Other dimensions||Grounds: 343,253 sqft|
|Floor count||7 floors|
|Floor area||64,700 sqft|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||E. J. Lennox|
|Official name||Casa Loma|
|Type||Designated Part IV (Heritage Property)|
Casa Loma (Spanish for Hill House) is a Gothic Revival style house and gardens in midtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that is now a museum and landmark. It was built as a residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Casa Loma was constructed from 1911 to 1914. The architect was E. J. Lennox, who designed several other city landmarks. Casa Loma sits at an elevation of 140 metres (460 ft) above sea level.
Due to its unique architectural character in Toronto, Casa Loma has been a popular filming location for movies and television. Casa Loma is a popular venue to hold wedding ceremony and rites. The historic place can be rented in the afternoon after the museum closes to public.
In 1903, financier Henry Pellatt purchased 25 lots from developers Kertland and Rolf. Pellatt commissioned architect E. J. Lennox to design Casa Loma with construction beginning in 1911, starting with the massive stables, potting shed and Hunting Lodge (a.k.a. coach-house) a few hundred feet north of the main building. The Hunting Lodge is a two-story 4,380-square-foot (407 m2) house with servants' quarters. As soon as the stable complex was completed, Sir Henry sold his summer house in Scarborough to his son and moved to the Hunting Lodge. The stables were used as a construction site for the castle (and also served as the quarters for the male servants), with some of the machinery still remaining in the rooms under the stables.
The house cost about $3.5 million and took 300 workers three years to build. Due to the start of World War I, construction was halted. At 98 rooms covering 64,700 square feet (6,011 m2), it was the largest private residence in Canada. Notable amenities included an elevator, an oven large enough to cook an ox, two vertical passages for pipe organs, a central vacuum, two secret passages in Pellatt's ground-floor office, a pool, and three bowling alleys in the basement (the last two were never completed).
Most of the third floor was left unfinished, and today serves as the Regimental Museum for The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. Pellatt joined the Regiment as a Rifleman and rose through the ranks to become the Commanding Officer. He was knighted for his dedication to the Regiment. Pellatt later served as the Honorary Colonel and was promoted Major-General upon retirement.
During the depression that followed the war, the City of Toronto increased Casa Loma's property taxes from $600 per year to $1,000 a month, and Pellatt, already experiencing financial difficulties, auctioned off $1.5 million in art and $250,000 in furnishings. Pellatt was able to enjoy life in the castle for less than ten years, leaving in 1923.
In the late 1920s, investors operated Casa Loma for a short time as a luxury hotel. During Prohibition it became a popular nightspot for wealthy Americans. The Orange Blossoms, later known as Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, played there for eight months in 1927–1928. Shortly thereafter, they went on tour of North America and became a major swing era dance band.
The city seized Casa Loma in 1933 for $27,303 in back taxes. The castle was extremely run down and the city was motioning for the castle to be demolished. In 1937, however, it was leased by the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto, later the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma (KCCL), which began operating the castle under a sole-source contract as a tourist destination.
During World War II, Casa Loma was used to conceal research on sonar, and for construction of sonar devices (known as ASDIC) for U-boat detection. Most of the work went on behind an area segregated with an "Under Repairs" sign, behind a simple sheet. This allowed people to come and go dressed as workmen, right under the public's nose.
KCCL managed Casa Loma for 74 years, until 2011. Its tenure was not without controversy, with Pellatt's great-grandniece Trelawny Howell starting a campaign for an open tender lease process in 2005, and the organization disputing her relationship with Pellatt in 2010. A 2006 advisory committee led by former MPP Ron Kanter, and its subsequent reports, recommended the city turn the castle's management over to a new "Casa Loma Trust"; however, a city manager's report in 2008 recommended extending the city's lease with KCCL for 20 years, and in July 2008 it was renewed.
Meanwhile, from 1997 until 2012 the castle underwent a 15-year, $33-million exterior restoration largely funded by the city, which also created a new board of trustees including seven KCCL members and seven city appointees in 2008. The city's renewed management agreement included a stipulation that KCCL would use the castle's net revenues to help pay for upgrades; however, the organization used the fund to cover operating shortfalls instead, and there was only $335,000 in the account by 2011, rather than the $1.5-million originally projected. As a result, in 2011 the city temporarily resumed management of Casa Loma, and began welcoming bids from the private sector in its search for a new operator.
In January 2014 the city entered a new long-term lease and operating agreement with Liberty Entertainment Group, led by President and CEO Nick Di Donato, which agreed to spend $7.4 million to continue the castle's restoration, installing air conditioning, enhancing the special events and dining experience and integrating new technology for school and cultural programming. The company's plans also include a fine dining facility.
- Great Hall
- Dining Room
- The Conservatory
- Serving Room
- Peacock Alley
- Sir Henry's Study
- Smoking Room
- Billiards Room
- Oak Room
- Sir Henry's Suite
- Sir Henry's Bathroom
- Lady Pellatt's Suite
- Lady Pellatt's Bathroom
- Girl Guides Exhibit
- Guest Suite
- Windsor Room
- Round Room
- The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum
- Stairs to Towers
- The Kiwanis Room
- The Garden Room
- Servant's Room
- The Austin Room
- Gift Shop (Bowling lanes and shooting range - never completed)
- Castle Café (Gymnasium - never completed)
- Swimming Pool (Never completed)
- Wine Cellar
- Tunnel to Hunting Lodge and Stables
- Potting Shed
- Standing Stalls with horses' names and box stalls
- Carriage Room
- Tack Rooms
- Hunting Lodge
- Parking lots
Sir Henry imported artisans from Europe to design much of the furniture and other features of the castle.
The Oak Room (originally called the Napoleon Drawing Room) is the most decorated room in the house, and was used for formal occasions. It is encased in wood panels in the style of Grinling Gibbons which took three artisans three years to carve. The highly ornamented plaster ceiling was made by Italian craftsmen, and was enhanced by the use of indirect lighting in the ceiling. Among other fixtures, the room featured a 10 feet (3.0 m) high Louis XVI style faux-gilt carved light standard with 24 bulbs.
Casa Loma is on Austin Terrace at Spadina Road, on an escarpment (Davenport Hill) above Davenport Road. Davenport runs along the bottom of the escarpment which was the shoreline of Lake Iroquois, the predecessor of Lake Ontario (coordinates ). Casa Loma affords views down the escarpment and Spadina Avenue into the heart of Toronto. The stables are located at 330 Walmer Road and the Hunting Lodge at 328 Walmer Road.
Casa Loma is a popular location for use in film and television. It has served as a location for movies such as X-Men, Strange Brew, Chicago, The Tuxedo, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Warehouse 13, Twitches Too, and The Pacifier. Comic books and children's novels that have used it include the Scott Pilgrim series and Eric Wilson's murder mystery, The Lost Treasure of Casa Loma. It was also temporarily transformed into Hogwarts for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the CBC Television show Being Erica, the episode "Mi Casa, Su Casa Loma" features Casa Loma prominently as the place where main character Erica Strange works.
It also served in the movie adaption of R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps (TV series)" A Night In Terror Tower. Casa Loma also features prominently in the biography-documentary of Sir Henry Pellatt, The Pellatt Newsreel: the Man who Built Casa Loma and was nominated for a 2009 Gemini for Best Biography Documentary]. TV show Hemlock Grove was also filmed there as well as The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Lady Pellatt frequently invited the Girl Guides to her home. Their first visit was in 1913 when 250 girls and their leaders toured the conservatories, the stables, climbed the circular staircase to the top turret and then were served tea in the Palm Room. In March 1914, Lady Pellatt watched the Guides annual fête from her bedroom window as she was too ill to leave her room. Rallies became an annual event at the house. Guides also skated on the house's curling rink in winter. Girl Guiding events have continued in recent years, including the introduction of a Girl Guide room in 1973, and both the 75th anniversary and the 100th anniversary celebrations of Guiding in Canada were held at Casa Loma.
Vintage car exhibition
As of 2014[update], the garage and carriage room feature an exhibition of vintage cars from the early 1900s.
- Denison, John (1982). Casa Loma and the Man Who Built It. Boston Mills Press. ISBN 978-0919822481.
- Oreskovich, Carlie (1982). Sir Henry Pellatt, the King of Casa Loma. MaGraw-Hill Ryerson. ISBN 978-0075484561.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Casa Loma.|
- "The History of Casa Loma". Casa Loma website. City of Toronto. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- Casa Loma Altitude and Location
- Dela Cruz, Ruth (31 March 2013). "A Visit to Casa Loma (Old Castle in Toronto)". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- Future Options for Casa Loma, Toronto, Casa Loma Corporation, 2012, 115 p., p. 13
- Grant, Kelly (2010). "The Globe and Mail: Feud brews over Casa Loma". www.globeandmail.ca. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- Casa Loma: The House that Henry built: how a castle in downtown Toronto helped us win the battle of the Atlantic in WWII. Eric Leclerc. Esprit de Corps. 18.6 (July 2011) p32.
- Howell, Trelawny (2005). "Toronto Waterfront Magazine: Casa Loma's Fate" (PDF). www.casalomatrust.ca. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- Farncomb, Jennifer (2010). "Annex Gleaner: Howell defends her lineage". www.casalomatrust.ca. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Spears, John (2006). "Toronto Star: Sir Henry's great-grandniece wants new caretakers". www.casalomatrust.ca. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- Wood, Eric Emin (2013). "Turnaround at Casa Loma; Town Crier". www.mytowncrier.ca. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Wood, Eric Emin (2013). "Liberty Group to free Casa Loma; Town Crier". www.mytowncrier.ca. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Freeman, Bill (1999). Casa Loma: Canada's Fairy-Tale Castle and Its Owner, Sir Henry Pellatt. Lorimer. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-1550286458. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- Davidson, Hillary (2008). Frommer's Toronto 2009. Frommer's Complete Guides. Frommer's. p. 143. ISBN 978-0470399064. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
- Litvak, Marilyn M. (1996). Edward James Lennox: Builder of Toronto. Dundurn. p. 60. ISBN 978-1550022049. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- Mi Casa, Su Casa Loma (Television production). Being Erica. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009. 21:32 minutes in.
- "Fact Sheet Lady Mary Pellatt" (PDF). Girl Guides of Canada Guides du Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-12-01.