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E.J Lennox and Building of a Courthouse

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    THE BUILDING THENIn 1886 the city held a competition for the design of a court house.

    Thirteen architects competed and E.J Lennox was chosen to construct thisbuilding. He was chosen as the architect because of his unique way ofdemonstrating the Richardsoninan Romanesque design (In North America thisdesign was know as the style of public dignity). But by the time theproject was underway, the city government decided that it needed a cityhall as well as a court house, so Lennox prepared new designs for abuilding that combined both. The Interior features involve bronze and irondetailing, painted murals by George Reid, as well as huge symbolicstained-glass windows by Robert McCausland. The entire building wascreated out of stone. Materials used were Credit valley red sandstone,Sackville brownstone from New Brunswick and greystone from a quarry nearOrangeville. The stones are decorated with elaborate carvings of floraland geometric designs, hideous faces and caricatures. The complete buildingcost the city 2.5 million dollars which is almost nine times greater thatthe original target price which was set at 300,000 dollars. Many peoplecomplained and said that the cost of building the hall could have been usedon practical schemes such as sewer improvage, water supplies and otherimportant city needs. This mind blowing amount of money encouraged manyinvestigations and lawsuits. One affair being in which the architects namewas revealed carved immediately below the ledge under the uppermost windowsand it spelled out “E J LENNOX ARCHITECT A D 1898”.

    THE BUILDING NOWBefore designing the building Lennox made a tour to cities of the U.Swith buildings with the same style, now city hall’s resemblance to H. H.

    Richardosn’s Pittsburgh court house in 1886 is often pointed out. Thebuilding is designed so that the clock tower is centered on lower Baystreet, providing a satisfying vista. Since this building was designed tobe used for various activities when one enters the old city hall form theentrance of Queen and James street they will see three names carved abovethe door: Court House, Municipal Building and City Hall. Also, originallythere were a number of gargoyles projecting from all sides of the building,including four on the tower, but most of them were removed becausedeterioration made them a menace to the passerby on the streets below.

    In 1956, mayor Nathan Phillips announced a contest for a new cityhall. Toronto lost interest in the old building and began to admire thenew one when the construction was over. By 1967 government wanted to sellthe old city hall as a site for the Eaton Center. But friends of thisbuilding opposed this opinion and many disputes began. Finally, the EatonCenter found out a new way to be constructed without the need of the oldcity hall’s land. Now the old city hall houses the municipal courts. In1972 the facade was cleaned and restored by Summit Restorations, and itssubtle coloration and complicated carvings were revealed once again.

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