BEST OLD BUILD­ING ST. LAWRENCE HALL

NOW Magazine - Best of Toronto - - City Scape -

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.

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