Gooderham Building (a.k.a. Flatiron Building)

January 12th, 2012

The St. Lawrence neighbourhood is one of my favourite areas of Toronto.  It is always busy year round and makes for great people watching, especially on weekend mornings.  The Gooderham Building, a.k.a the Flatiron, is one of the anchors of this neighbourhood and is one of many landmarks in Toronto.  The other anchor of this area is the St. Lawrence neighbourhood which I will visit in future post.

Gooderham Building, 1890s by F. W. Micklethwaite

The Gooderham Building is located at the corner of Front, Wellington, and Church streets and  was completed in 1892. It was designed and used by the Gooderham family for the offices of the Gooderham and Worts distillery. George Gooderham, son of William Gooderham who founded the distillery, utilized theses offices and could see as far as the Distillery District at Front and Parliament Streets where the company produced whiskey and other spirits.

The Gooderham family eventually sold the building in the 1950s. The Flatiron was declared a heritage building in 1975 and underwent major restoration in the 1990s by property management company who specializes in heritage properties.

Gooderham Building, 49 Wellington Street

Not only is this building known for being in a wedge shape, it also features a mural on the back of the building.  In the midst of the parkette, the mural appears and peaks over the trees. The mural was painted by Derek Michael Basant and allows the back wall to have more windows than it does. Also, with it’s edges ‘fluttering’ away where they are not ‘tacked’ down, to give it a more mobile effect. The parkette is a great spot during the summer and always has several people taking a break.

The Flatiron Mural by Canadian artist Derek Michael Besant

There was a story I once heard about this building several years ago through Doors Open Toronto, an annual event in the spring showcasing buildings and neighbourhoods. The story takes place back in the late 1890s when George Gooderham still owned and used the building, George had so much money that the bank, now occupied by a Pizza Pizza, across the street was not able to hold it. He would store the money in several safes found on each floor of the building, including the basement.

A bank was located at this corner

There was an underground pathway connected to the bank across the street through the basement. George would use this pathway whenever he needed to transfer cash between the building and the bank. The pathway does still exist but is now locked up and no one uses it anymore.

One wintry day, an employee at Gooderham and Worts was asked to go down into the basement to open the flue for the fireplace. Not knowing that money was stored in the basement, the employee opened the flue and money shot up through the building and ‘rained’ onto the street.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *