BEST OLD BUILDING ST. LAWRENCE HALL
157 King East Designed in the neoclassical style by architect William Thomas and opened after the Great Fire in 1850, St. Lawrence Hall is without a doubt the most prestigious of our old buildings. In its heyday, the Great Hall was Toronto’s social and cultural centre, playing host to some of the 19th century’s greatest performers. It’s also one of only a handful of places left in Canada where the Fathers of Confederation first pitched the idea of a Dominion of Canada. Indeed, it’s on this site that the city’s first City Hall stood and where the papers were signed that turned Muddy York into Toronto. Less known is the huge role the Hall played in bringing an end to slavery in the U.S., by hosting the North American Convention of Coloured Freemen in 1851 at which leading abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a keynote speaker. After a period of decline, the building was almost destroyed, only to be saved from the wrecking ball and restored by architect Eric Arthur as part of centennial celebrations in 1967.