Toronto Loft Conversions

Toronto Loft Conversions

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Modern Toronto Lofts

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Unique Toronto Homes

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Condos in Toronto

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Toronto Real Estate

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Macdonell Lofts – 243 Macdonell Avenue

Only 4 years after 41 Shanly, the Macdonell Lofts at 243 Macdonell Avenue would certainly be one of Toronto’s earliest loft conversions. From sporting goods to brass smelting to tool-and-die, this former factory building was converted in 1986, creating an exclusive 6 lofts on two or three levels. The loft sizes range from 800 to 2,600 square feet and some boast rooftop terraces, perfect for taking in the view of your one-of-a-kind neighbourhood – Roncesvalles Village. Since its conversion over twenty years ago, most of these Toronto loft units have been renovated and are currently heated by gas.

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

The small and obscure orange factory that houses the Macdonell Lofts

Always said to be an old tool-and-die factory, it has a slightly more interesting history. First off, Macdonell Avenue was named for the Scottish Roman Catholic bishop Alexander Macdonell. In the late 1700s he was the first Catholic chaplain in the British Army since the Reformation. In 1812, he raised another regiment, the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, which came to the defence of Upper Canada in the War of 1812. When MacDonell lived in Toronto after returning from Europe, he resided in a house on the south-east corner of Jarvis and Richmond Streets. That house, built in 1832, still stands. You would certainly recognize it as the Mystic Muffin bakery!

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

The 1913 article mentioning the Reach Sporting Goods break-in

There was an article from the Toronto Sunday World from 1913 mentioning Reach Sporting Goods Company as being at 243 Macdonell Avenue. A.J. Reach & Co. was one of the largest producers of sporting goods in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Alfred James Reach (1840 – 1928) was an Anglo-American sportsman who, after becoming one of the early stars of baseball in the National Association, went on to become an influential executive, publisher, sporting goods manufacturer and spokesman for the sport. Upon his retirement from playing in 1875, he helped found the Philadelphia Phillies franchise and served as team president from 1883 to 1899. Later, similar to Al Spalding, Reach formed a sporting goods company and earned millions. In fact, he sold his company to Spalding in 1889. I wonder if there is any connection to the larger Rawlings Baseball Glove Factory at Columbus and Sorauren, now the One Columbus Lofts.

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

1919 ads for Wm. A. Rogers and their different metal wares

In fact, in 1919 it was the Bronze Foundry Dept. of Wm. A. Rogers Ltd. The firm was founded in the 1890s by William Rogers, a small storekeeper from New York. The firm succeeded the Niagara Silver Co. (c. 1904) and bought Simeon L. & Geo. H. Rogers Co. in 1918. The firm was an Ontario corporation active in New York and North Hampton, MA, when was bought by Oneida in 1929. This building was their brass foundry at one point, Canadian head offices were on King Street West. Their silverware is still very much collected, even today.

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

Interiors of the Macdonell Lofts at 243 Macdonell Avenue

I have heard it was built in 1908, which jibes well with the bit of history I can dig up. The architectural style certainly supports an early 20th-century origin. You can see it on the 1910 Goad’s Fire Insurance Map, but not on the 1903 version. That pretty much seals it for me. Built around 1908, likely first as a maker of sporting goods, but only for a short time. By WWI it was a brass foundry. Then 60-odd years of mystery… likely ending in the early 1980s as some small no-name factory. Many people say it was a warehouse, others say tool-and-die. I assume it had to have been something like that, as most myths are based on a kernel of truth.

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

Inside the Macdonell Lofts at 243 Macdonell Avenue

But what was it after the brass foundry? Interestingly, there is no record of the building being sold on MLS. But the digital records only go back until around the mid-1980s, so it it was sold in 1985 or earlier, there would not be anything for me to find outside of the land registry office down at city hall. The original sales, from the builder, also are not on MLS. Which is another dead end for finding the name of the developer.

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

Rare looks inside the Macdonell Lofts at 243 Macdonell Avenue

Interesting side note, only units 3-6 have ever been listed for sale. I assume there is a 1 & 2, just because numbers make sense. And I have seen address listings for a 7th unit. Many say there are 6 units, others say 7. Land registry only lists 6, so I am going to have to go with there being only 6 units. Though I do remember an odd one, on the back, not really part of the main building… But I haven’t shown a unit there since around 2007 or so. Only one other unit has come up for sale since then.

Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue

There is certainly a long and strange history behind this little factory in Parkdale

Wood beams, wood ceilings, exposed brick. Some with rooftop decks, others with ground-floor terraces. Used to be kind of beige coloured, until it was painted that awesome shade of orange sometime around 2005-2006. Was a very arty building, certainly a lot of studio action going on. Not sure if that is still the vibe, but it is an amazing hidden gem of a loft.

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Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto real estate agent with Century 21 Regal Realty.
He did not write every article, some are reproduced here for people who
are interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.

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Summary
Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue
Article Name
Macdonell Lofts - 243 Macdonell Avenue
Description
Only 4 years after 41 Shanly, the Macdonell Lofts at 243 Macdonell Avenue would certainly be one of Toronto’s earliest loft conversions.
Author
Laurin Jeffrey - Century 21 Regal Reaalty

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