Casa Loma might be known today as the home of Blueblood Steakhouse and an annual haunted house, or the place where Schitt’s Creek cast celebrated winning their Emmys, but this gorgeous building has also been home, dance hall, hotel, and eventually a museum.
As one of the major architectural achievements of the city’s late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the building was designed by EJ Lennox (1854-1933), one of the most talented and influential architects in the region. The commissioned private residence of Sir Henry Pellatt was the landmark for which Lennox was most proud, although he was also credited with other notable landmarks such as the Old City Hall.
His bedroom was located on the second floor of the mansion, on the north wall of the second floor, facing northeast, when he built his house in 1913 on the hill at Walmer Road near Davenport Road, at 5 Austin Terrace. As a result, he woke up each morning, looking out at the towering castle which towered over the city below, which he could see from his window across Walmer.
Constructed in 1911, the building was completed in 1913. There were ninety-eight rooms in the castle, a library with 10,000 volumes, expansive gardens, and an eighty-foot tunnel connecting the castle to the stables. Construction took place at a cost of $3.5 million and employed 300 workers. According to Sir Pellatt, he built the castle to entertain the King and Queen within its walls.
A highly talented industrialist, Pellett was responsible for bringing electricity in and around Toronto and for the construction of streetcars before retiring. However, he didn’t live a lavish, exuberant lifestyle for too long. As a result of unpaid taxes, the city seized the castle in 1923, forcing him and Lady Pellatt to find new accommodation. He also lost his money in real estate as a result of his destructive desire for luxury. As he worked on his dream home, he was also developing a gated community near Bathurst and St. Clair, which he named Cedarvale.
Due to a severe drop in real estate values after the First World War, Sir Pellatt only sold some of the properties he had financed. As a consequence of the owner’s departure, the short-lived Casa Loma Hotel has opened the same year that the provincial government abolished the Ontario Temperance Act.
The building in Toronto advertised itself as an “apartment hotel,” where guests could rent a room for $6 a day for as long as they liked. Sir Henry Pellatt’s former residence was also equipped with a dining room and dancing halls, but as a hotel, it failed and closed one year later. During the next decade, the castle stood vacant until 1937, when the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma assumed administration of the building and operated it as a tourist attraction until it was transferred to the city.
The castle was the subject of several strange stories, including an account that Sir Pellatt offered to pay a dollar for one dun-coloured boulder, but only one white one was used, according to John Colombo. In another story, Pope Pius XII planned to move the Vatican to Casa Loma during World War II. Liberty Entertainment Group now operates Casa Loma. Casa Loma and the estate gardens attract more than 650,000 visitors each year. The venue has also hosted private events, been a location for filming and television, as well as photoshoots.
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