A Gem of a Building: 67 Lombard

One of the most charming buildings on Lombard Street is a little brick building at 67 Lombard. It was built in approximately 1905 and is today both a residence and a commercial space tenanted by group of architectural firms.

2016-04-24 13.15.49Despite some updates and modifications, this building retains much of its character. This buff (yellow) and red-faced brick building retains the symmetry and simple architectural details of an early 1900s industrial building. The builder added a few elements of grandeur using small amounts of stone in the 2nd storey window sills and the 1st storey accents at the top and middle of the side walls. Note the emphasized brick corners with reveals on the 2nd level; every sixth course is receded to create grooves that simulate quoins. The window arches are diminished, axed and segmental and the windows are 2-over-2, which is atypical of a post 1900 building. This suggests they are not original but are generally sympathetic to the character of the building (i.e., the frames are wood, and they fit the shape of the opening). Certainly, the large glazed front of the 1st level is a modern adaptation.

The Goad’s Fire Insurance maps provide a good idea of what buildings were on the site. Before this industrial brick building occupied the site, there was a 2-storey, wood-frame, rough cast (plastered) residential house with an address of 73 Lombard. It appears for the first time on the 1880 fire insurance map but it most likely predates that year–the only map we have prior to 1880 is 1858 which makes for a long gap that keeps us from really nailing down the interim years.

67 Lombard 1880 Map
1880 Goad’s Fire Insurance Map

Early Toronto City directories show that this building was used both as a boarding house and a single-family dwelling. For example, the 1859 city directory shows that three people shared the building: William Cox, labourer; Dennis Hogan, tailor; and John Hughes, labourer. From 1862 to 1872, a couple, Matthew and Catherine Darcy lived there. It then reverted to a boarding house, with John Doherty, moulder, John Sheedy and John Strastle, both labourers, and Mrs. M. Ironside living there. From 1882-1889, a single resident, John Sheedy, a labourer, was listed. Interestingly in 1890, James Taylor & Sons Pickles was listed, a sign of how Lombard Street had started to shift from residential to commercial by the 1890s.

The 1903 map continues to show the wood structure on the site of 67 Lombard, but by 1910 there is a brick building there. The City Directory lists The Toronto Carpet Cleaning Company at 67 Lombard for the first time in 1905. We might assume that this company had the brick building built.

67 Lombard 1910 Map
1910 Goad’s Fire Insurance Map

This is very plausible when you consider that the Toronto Steam Carpet Cleaning Company, whose proprietors were John T. Pfeiffer and William G. Hough, had been in business on Lombard street since 1892. They were first located at 44-46 Lombard Street, the north side of Lombard west of Church. They were 1 of 5 businesses listed at this address. By 1897 they hold the 44 Lombard address exclusively. This 1904 ad in the City Directory confirms their address at 44 Lombard.

67 Lombard Toronto Carpet Cleaning Ad

Another ad for the Toronto Carpet Cleaning Company from the Feb 28, 1894 Evening Star newspaper is an entertaining read.

toronto-carpet-cleaning-ad_feb-28-1894-evening-star.jpg
Source: Evening Star Feb 28, 1894 via ProQuest

There is one season of the year when advent strikes terror to the heart of the average man, and that is the period embraced in the week or two devoted to the annual necessary nuisance known as house cleaning time. It then becomes necessary to take up the carpets after a long period of wear, and the male contingent of the family is pressed into service with the aid of clubs, to beat the dust from the same. This can all be avoided now through the instrumentality of the Toronto Carpet Cleaning Co., of 41 Lombard Street. This company takes up, cleans, fits, lays and stores carpets, etc., and by their carpet-cleaning machinery all dust and dirt is removed without injury to the carpet and at a vast saving of labor and trouble. They also renovate leathers (or feathers, can’t read), etc., an improved process, and give special attention to the repairing of furniture. The plant at the above address is well equipped in the matter of machinery and appliances, and all work is done at a reasonable cost. When the reader desires any work in this line just call telephone No. 2686 and your wants will be attended to with promptness and dispatch. The business is under the management of Mr. J. T. Hough, who thoroughly understands all of its details, and as he personally oversees all work customers may be assured of entire satisfaction.”

 

The Toronto Carpet Cleaning Company remained in business at 67 Lombard Street until 1943, a total of 51 years. After their departure, a series of tenants occupy the building, including Lombard Plastic Fixtures (Can) Ltd (1945-48); Lombard Ace Art Services Ltd, an advertising displays company (1949-50); Lombard Metaplastics Identification Ltd., which made metal name plates (1951-54); and then Gilbert A. Milne & Co. Ltd., a commercial photography studio, from 1955 to 1967.

Gilbert Milne
Source: www.mapleleafup.ca

Gilbert Milne (1914-1991) learned his trade working in his father’s photography business. He then became a photographer for the Toronto Daily Star. Following the Second World War, where he served as Lance Corporal and an official Royal Canadian Navy photographer, Gilbert and his brother John opened a photography studio at 45 Adelaide Street East in 1945. They remained at the Adelaide location until 1955, when it moved to 67 Lombard Street. After remaining for 12 years here, the studio moved to 207 Adelaide Street East at Jarvis Street in 1967. Over the next 10 years Gilbert A. Milne & Co. Ltd. grew to become one of the largest photographic operations in Canada, and it remained in business through the 1980s.

 

 

If you are interested in looking at some of his wartime photography check out this site: http://www.mapleleafup.ca/dday5-2ndwave.html

In 1964, three years before Gilbert Milne moved his business to Adelaide Street, he shared 67 Lombard with a company called Elliott Bishop Co. Ltd., a medallion and insignia manufacturer. This company had occupied the building next door at 71 Lombard since 1928 (71 Lombard no longer exists). When Milne left in 1969, Elliot Bishop took over 67 Lombard. This business remained in the building for 7 years until 1976, when it relinquished both 67 & 71 Lombard.

More recent occupants of 67 Lombard Street include Goldcast Jewellery, the company that assumed the building after Elliot Bishop Co. Ltd. left in 1976 and remained until 1982. Thereafter, the building was the home of a series of fleeting film and video production companies with names like Electric Images Inc., Master Video Production, Toronto Video, and Third Stone Productions.

67-lonbard-between-1981-and-86_city-archives_enhanced.jpg
Source: Toronto City Archives, early 1980s

In 1994, 67 Lombard Street faced demolition when the Absolute Lofts condominium at 77 Lombard Street was proposed. This snippet from the public meeting on the proposal shows that Absolute Lofts intended to abut 55 Lombard Street. Luckily 67 was saved and a redesigned Absolute Lofts was completed by Intracorp in 2000.

67-lombard-demolition-notice.jpg
City of Toronto Notice of Public Meeting on Proposed Official Plan Amendment and               Zoning By-Law, May 27, 1994

In 2001, the building was bought by Adam Johnstone and his sister, Celia. Pictures at the time of purchase show that it had been painted over and hidden by a canopy.

Pre-sale 67 Lombard
Photo courtesy of Adam Johnstone

The new owners have restored the brick façade and added a 3rd storey glass cube in 2015, expanding the 2nd floor residential space. Today, the 1st floor commercial tenants include Loh Architect Associates; Stanford Downey Architect Ltd.; and ARCAD Computer Aided Drafting Ltd.

67 Lombard photo from SDA website
Source: Stanford Downey Architect Ltd website

Sources Consulted: Charles E. Goad Fire Insurance Maps via  http://skritch.blogspot.ca/2012/04/goads-atlas-of-toronto-online.html; Toronto City Directories via https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/history-genealogy/lh-digital-city-directories.jsp; Toronto Star and Globe and Mail Historical Newspapers via https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/books-video-music/articles-online-research/; Toronto City Archives; email correspondence with Adam Johnstone

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