Why I Loved Toronto
The Masonic Temple
This is by far one of the saddest closures in the downtown core to happen in a very long time. The iconic Masonic Temple will be closing after BellMedia decided to move operations of its channel MTV to 299 Queen Street West.
The temple which is 95 years old (construction began on November 17th 1917 with the laying of the cornerstone) has not only hosted the masons, but a number of celebrities in its history.
However, the first purpose for the building was to host the Freemasons (read my full history of them in my CB2 post). At the cornerstone laying there was around 300 people in attendance some were Masters of the Toronto Districts and others were from their brethren of the Toronto lodges. The first lodge meeting wasn’t held until New Years Day of 1918 and during its time as a temple hosted 38 different Masonic bodies. The masons built Masonic Temple in an Italian Renaissance style. There is also Indiana stone used in the cornice and window framing , the brickwork was from the local Don Valley Brickworks and the roof was covered with Welsh promenade tile. The building was fully equipped with boardrooms, locker rooms, a banquet hall, pantry, lodging rooms a meeting hall.
The hall then became a Concert Hall in the late 60’s known as the Rockpile and hosted a number of big named celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin (First Toronto Concert) and the Rolling Stones.
In 1998 it was purchased by CTV to host is Open Mike With Mike Bullard series. In 2006 it became the headquarters to MTV Canada.
Before CTV bought the building there was a proposed demolition of the hall. According to reports condominium developers planned to market the site to an Asian consumer because the street address (888 Yonge) was considered lucky. However, the building is a heritage property under the City of Toronto and the Ontario Heritage Act. Now its designation could be a big problem for the building. There are so many rules when a property is designated heritage, which means it becomes very expensive. Therefore, there is a chance the building may sit abandoned on the corner of Yonge and Davenport for years. However, if my Heritage Modernization Theory is right then there is a chance that the building could be fully restored (not that it needs it) and used for commercial or (and I hate to say it) residential purposes.
What will become of the Masonic Temple? Will it become condos? Will it become studios again? What do you think should happen once MTV moves its operations to 299 Queen Street West? It would certainly be ashamed if this building were abandoned when it turns 100 in 2017.
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