E.J Lennox and Building of a Courthouse

In 1886 the city held a competition for the design of a court house.

Thirteen architects competed and E.J Lennox was chosen to construct this
building. He was chosen as the architect because of his unique way of
demonstrating the Richardsoninan Romanesque design (In North America this
design was know as the style of public dignity). But by the time the
project was underway, the city government decided that it needed a city
hall as well as a court house, so Lennox prepared new designs for a
building that combined both. The Interior features involve bronze and iron
detailing, painted murals by George Reid, as well as huge symbolic
stained-glass windows by Robert McCausland. The entire building was
created out of stone. Materials used were Credit valley red sandstone,
Sackville brownstone from New Brunswick and greystone from a quarry near
Orangeville. The stones are decorated with elaborate carvings of floral
and geometric designs, hideous faces and caricatures. The complete building
cost the city 2.5 million dollars which is almost nine times greater that
the original target price which was set at 300,000 dollars. Many people
complained and said that the cost of building the hall could have been used
on practical schemes such as sewer improvage, water supplies and other
important city needs. This mind blowing amount of money encouraged many
investigations and lawsuits. One affair being in which the architects name
was revealed carved immediately below the ledge under the uppermost windows
and it spelled out “E J LENNOX ARCHITECT A D 1898”.

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Before designing the building Lennox made a tour to cities of the U.S
with buildings with the same style, now city hall’s resemblance to H. H.

Richardosn’s Pittsburgh court house in 1886 is often pointed out. The
building is designed so that the clock tower is centered on lower Bay
street, providing a satisfying vista. Since this building was designed to
be used for various activities when one enters the old city hall form the
entrance of Queen and James street they will see three names carved above
the door: Court House, Municipal Building and City Hall. Also, originally
there were a number of gargoyles projecting from all sides of the building,
including four on the tower, but most of them were removed because
deterioration made them a menace to the passerby on the streets below.

In 1956, mayor Nathan Phillips announced a contest for a new city
hall. Toronto lost interest in the old building and began to admire the
new one when the construction was over. By 1967 government wanted to sell
the old city hall as a site for the Eaton Center. But friends of this
building opposed this opinion and many disputes began. Finally, the Eaton
Center found out a new way to be constructed without the need of the old
city hall’s land. Now the old city hall houses the municipal courts. In
1972 the facade was cleaned and restored by Summit Restorations, and its
subtle coloration and complicated carvings were revealed once again.


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