There is a lot written about the dance theatre on Winchester Street. Many of us have been there for events, community meetings and taken our kids to dance classes. However, there is remarkably little about the building to be found on the web. As part of our new style, we will pick a location and feature it on the front cover. It seems the people in the area love their heritage.
The Winchester Street Theatre is a very historic building in Cabbagetown, Toronto. The former home of St. Enoch’s Presbyterian Church, this building dates back to 1891 and was created under the influence of architects Gordon & Helliwell. Today it represents one of the few bold examples of Romanesque Revival in the city and only one of its kind in the neighbourhood, making it an essential part of the Conservation District, both culturally and historically.
During the mid-19th century, Romanesque Revival architecture was a prominent style in churches, synagogues, universities, train stations, and government buildings in North America. The building Borrows many details from 11th and 12th-century Romanesque structures. The following characteristics can distinguish this style:
- Round arches over windows and doorways
- Rounded towers
- Thick masonry walls and a brick or stone asymmetrical facade
- Belt courses
- Deep points of entry
Presently, the building is home to the Toronto Dance Theatre, one of the foremost modern dance companies in Canada.
About the Architects
Gordon & Helliwell was a start-of-the-20th-century architectural firm based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Principals were Henry Bauld Gordon, RCA, (1854–1951) and Grant Helliwell (1855–1953). The architectural firm of Gordon & Helliwell, which practiced in Toronto from 1879 to 1931. Church commissions formed a large part of the firm’s work particularly for the Presbyterian church. Helliwell was active in promoting the architectural profession in 0ntario as he was a founding member of the Architectural Guild and served as treasurer of the Ontario Association of Architects in 1899 and later was its president in 1901. Grant Helliwell was born at Todmorden, York County, Ontario on November 3, 1855 to an old Toronto famiy and was educated at the Toronto Grammar School and Jarvis Street Collegiate.
GORDON, Henry Bauld (1854-1951), a prolific architect active in Toronto, Ont. for his entire career, and a partner in the successful firm of Gordon & Helliwell, Architects. He was born in Toronto on 30 September 1854 and was educated at the Normal School. He articled with Henry Langley from 1872 to 1875 and learned much about High Victorian ecclesiastical design from him. In 1876, at the young age of 22 years, Gordon opened an office in Toronto under his own name. Just two years later, in 1878, he formed a partnership with Grant Helliwell, and for the next sixty years, their firm completed designs for nearly two hundred commercial, institutional, ecclesiastical and residential buildings, which were built in Ontario, Manitoba and as far west as British Columbia. Their collective skill as designers garnered them the First Premium of $200 in the competition for Queen’s College [now Queen’s University] in Kingston, Ont. in 1879, and the following year their impressive Gothic design for the new Ontario Parliament Building in Toronto submitted in a competition was awarded First Prize in 1880. Alas, this winning scheme was later shelved by the provincial government, and the commission was then awarded to Richard A. Waite, an American architect from Buffalo, N.Y. who, coincidentally, had served as one of the jurors for this 1880 competition.