Province halts alterations of 100-year old home
City explores heritage criteria for 7 Austin Terrace
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 23.)
Is the MacLean House at 7 Austin Terrace worth saving?
The province has bought the city 60 days to find out.
Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll issued a stop work order Dec. 21, halting the owner from continuing to destroy possible heritage features of the 100-year-old mansion near Casa Loma.
The new owner, a numbered company, applied to the city for a demolition permit to tear down the house and build a townhouse development.
But residents who want to see the home designated a heritage property will have nothing of it.
“Residents said we should look at it from a heritage standpoint,” Councillor Joe Mihevc said. “That was communicated to the developer who started work on (removing elements of the home).”
Some damage had already been done before the stop work order was issued.
“The windows were all ripped out and boarded,” Mihevic said. “The front door portal was ripped up and town down. The soffits under the roof were ripped down and the wrought iron railing taken down.”
While there was no illegal work taking place, the owner was aware the city was in the process of studying the home’s heritage value when they hired contractors to proceed with alterations, Mihevc said.
The city’s heritage staff will report this month to its board, and then council will vote on whether to list or designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Robert Levy, president of Casa Loma Residents Association, describes the house as one of four grand estates in the neighbourhood.
“Starting on the east with Spadina House that was owned by the Austins,” Levy said during a recent press conference. “Then the Pellats built Casa Loma, which is a major tourist attraction. The E.J Lennox, who was the architect of Casa Loma built his personal residence. And the fourth of these grand ladies on the hill is John Lyle’s beautiful Classical Georgian home built for John MacLean.”
MacLean, a journalist and founder of Maclean’s magazine, lived in the home, built in 1910.
MacLean House architect John Lyle also designed the Royal Alexandra Theatre, the Runnymede Library and Union Station.
Mihevc said the city will consider a set of criteria before deciding if the MacLean House should be protected for heritage reasons.
“It could be based on who lived there or the architect who built it or architectural features.”