Casa Loma

1 Austin Terrace Toronto

VAMONDE Toronto
Written By VAMONDE Toronto

Casa Loma

This Gothic Revival style mansion and garden in midtown was first constructed from 1911 to 1914 as a residence for financier Sir Henry Pellatt. Its architect, E.J. Lennox, designed several other city landmarks, including the Old City Hall. Meaning "Hill House" in Spanish, this unique site in Toronto is a well-known filming location for movies and television and a popular venue for wedding ceremonies. The historic house museum is a major tourist attraction and landmark. Take a look around in the video below!

Casa Loma cost about CAD$3.5 million and took 299 workers and three years to build. That would be a massive undertaking at any time and place, but particularly so in the early 20th Century. With 98 rooms covering 64,700 square feet, it was the largest private residence in Canada at the time of its completion. Among many other amenities, it included an elevator, two vertical passages for pipe organs, two secret passages, a pool, and three bowling alleys. Although there were plans for more, construction was halted in 1914 due to the start of World War I. Most of the third floor was left unfinished, and today serves as the Regimental Museum for The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.

Pellatt only got to live in the castle for less than 10 years, leaving in 1923 during the depression that followed the war. Casa Loma's property taxes were increased from $600 per year to $1,000 per month at this time. He auctioned off $1.5 million in art and $250,000 in furnishings, but eventually staying there proved too costly for him to justify. In the late 1920s, investors operated Casa Loma as a luxury hotel, and during Prohibition, it became popular among wealthy Americans for its nightlife. In the 1930s, the building had been vacant for some time and demolition loomed. A radio broadcaster called Calire Wallace, who spent a night there to gather material for a story on ghosts, broadcasted an appeal to save the old building. It was successful and led to its purchase by the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma, which operated it as a tourist destination for the next 75 years.

Cover photo "Casa Loma" by Joseph.Morris is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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